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Full text of "The life story of Edward F. Searles : from the unabridged hand-written manuscript of 1948"

NEVINS MEMORIAL LIBRARY 



3 1548 00267 386 2 



j 






THE LIFE STORY OP EDWARD P. SEARLES 
Compiled by Ray Fremmer 

PROM THE UNABRIDGED HAND-WRITTEN MANUSCRIPT OP 1948 

Preserved by Andrew »Angy* Ellison 
Transcribed by Robert DeLage 

Preface and Dedication 
to the Abridged Version of 195>7 

THIS IS A STORY OP THE REALIZATION OP A BOY'S DREAM 
TO LIVE IN A BIG CASTLE INSTEAD OP DAYDREAMING ABOUT ONE. 
WHEN I WAS A SMALL BOY I LIVED IN A TOWN 
WHERE EMPTY OLD CASTLES STIRRED MY IMAGINATION 
AND I STILL REMEMBER THINKING . . . 
"WHY ARE THEY HERE? HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN HERE, 
AND WHY IS THERE NOBODY INSIDE?" 
MYSTERY AND AWE POR GRANDEUR PILLED MY MIND. 
NOW I HAVE SOLVED THE MYSTERY, 
BUT IN MY DREAMS I STILL STEALTHPULLY WALK THE CASTLES 1 GROUNDS 
AND BRAVELY PEER INSIDE. 

Dedication 
TO BOYHOOD, WITH ALL ITS ENTHUSIASM AND CURIOSITY 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/lifestoryofedwarOOfrem 




Edward Francis Searles 
circa 1900 



The Hopkins 
Mansion 

Nob Hill 
San Franc isoo 



The oldest section 

of Pine Lodge 

visible on the left 

circa 1890 

Before being 

enveloped by 

newer construction 




Barrington House 
Kellogg Terrace 



The Entrance Hall 



The Living Hall 




Pine Lodge 
from old East Street 
circa 1905 



G-ate Lodge 
and Entrance 
to Pine Lodge 

circa 1900 



Lower terrace; 
at Pine Lodge 





Top photo: The Great Banquet Hall - Appleside wing at Pine Lodge 
Bottom Photo: The adjoining Tapestry Gallery and Organ 



Washington Park 
and Monument 
opposite Pine Lodge 
circa 1900 



The Red Tavern 
Searles 1 Guest House 
in Methuen 




Searles High School 
in Methuen 
circa 1905 




- 



Stanton Harcourt 
Windham 

circa 1927 




The Living Hall 



The Dining Room 




'tjjJPR!*« 



pttef 




Mr. Searles and "Junior* 
at Pine Lodge 

June, 1918 



"Junior" 




Appleside 
E. F. Searles' 

Residence 
at Pine Lodge 



Stillwater Manor 
Salem, 
New Hampshire 



Stanton Harcourt 
Windham, 
New Hampshire 




The Tower and Chapel 
at Pine Lodge 



Searles' Crypt 

in the lower level 

of the Chapel 



The Searles 
Burning Towers Crest 




1 - 



Chapter One 



" AN OLD CALIFORNIA GOLD MINE " 



- 2 



Chapter One 
" AN OLD CALIFORNIA GOLD MINE " 

Edward Francis (Frank) Searles was born in a small farm 
house in Methuen, Massachusetts, on the Fourth of July, I8I4.I. 
His parents left Nashua, New Hampshire, to come to Methuen so 
the father, Jessie Gould Searles, could work in the cotton mill. 
When Frank was three years old his father, sister, and younger 
brother all died within six weeks during the summer, victims of 
an awful epidemic. Mrs. Sarah Littlefield Searles, the mother, 
was forced to mortgage the house and its six acres in order to 
support herself, Frank, and his older brother Andy. In 1853, 
when Frank was twelve, he too went to work in the cotton mill. 
His formal education was terminated at that time. He did, 
however, begin to take piano lessons with a Mrs. Fells of 
Lawrence. 

In the next few years he also worked in a shoe factory and 
in his uncled department store in the neighboring city of 
Lawrence. All the while he was continuing with his piano lessons. 
After studying the organ in Boston he began to earn his living by 
giving piano lessons in Methuen, Lawrence, and nearby Salem, New 
Hampshire. About this time, a pretty Irish girl by the name of 
Catherine Linehan came to the Searles home to board and help Mrs. 
Searles with the housekeeping. Both the Searles brothers, Frank, 
age 19, and Andy, 21, became extremely fond of her. Then came the 
Civil War. Andy enlisted in the Army and Frank went to Gardiner, 



Maine, to teach music in order to support his mother. While 
Andy was away, Prank became engaged to Catherine. However, 
when Andy came home after the war, in the uniform of a major, 
Catherine broke her engagement to Prank and married Andy. 

To forget the loss of his sweetheart Prank decided to leave 
Methuen. With the birth of the mill city of Lawrence in iQkl » 
on land that was formerly part of Methuen, the little farming 
town had changed practically overnight from one of farms to one 
of mills. And Prank hated the mills. He went to Boston and 
secured a job with Paul & Company, upolsterers and furniture 
dealers. For the next twelve years, until he was thirty- three, 
he sold furniture. Then, in 1875, Paul & Company went out of 
business. Prank returned to Methuen with his savings and cancelled 
the thirty year old mortgage on his mother's house. She then 
deeded it over to him. The mortgage cancellation had cost him 
$l,i^50. He immediately remortgaged the property for $3>500. The 
difference between these figures illustrates the rise in the value 
of real estate since the new mills doubled the population of the 
town. In those days $3,500. was a lot of money. Frank Searles 
went to Europe for six months. 

After this little adventure, it was to New York, the city of 
opportunity, and not Boston that Prank returned. There he found 
a position with Herter Brothers, interior decorators, well known 
for the work they were to do on the Vanderbilt mansions. He 
remained with Herter Brothers until l88l when he had a long spell 
of inflamatory rheumatism which put him on the flat of his back 



- k - 



for some time, Eis doctor told him he should spend his time out 
west in order to recover. He decided to go to California to 
regain his health and also make a few calls at the homes of certain 
California millionaires who had employed Herter Brothers for 
interior decorating. After securing a letter of introduction 
from his former employer he went to San Francisco to present it to 
Mrs. Mark Hopkins at her palatial Nob Hill mansion. She was a 
fabulously wealthy widow whose husband had made a fortune pioneering 
one of the West's first railroads. 

So it was that in April, 1883, Prank Searles boldly knocked 
at the front door of a gold mine and, wonder of wonders, it opened 1 
Many years later, on recalling this day, Searles said, "I had 
never met her before. I saw the servant; she said Mrs. Hopkins 
never saw strangers except by appointment. I said I merely called 
to see the house." 

"The next day Mr. Timothy Hopkins (Mrs. Hopkins' adopted son) 
called upon me, presented his card, and said that Mrs. Hopkins 
would like me to dine with her at a family dinner. I objected; 
they were all strangers to me. But Mr. Hopkins told me there was 
no ceremony, and I went. I met Mrs. Hopkins. She was tall, quite 
large, and strong, mentally and physically. I was told that if I 
came the next morning I might see the house. 

"I was in and about San Francisco four or five weeks. I called 
on Mrs. Hopkins four times - once to see the house, once to dine 
there, once to go to Menlo Park, and once to pay my dinner call. 
I had no communication whatever with Mrs. Hopkins that summer. I 
heard from Mrs. Timothy Hopkins in October, saying that Mrs. Hopkins 



Senior was coming east to look after her affairs in Great Barrington, 
Massachusetts, and asked me if I would assist her. I answered that 
I would." 

While assisting her in building a memorial to her husband in 
Great Barrington, Prank Searles received a proposal of marriage 
from the wealthy widow. She was sixty- three and he was forty-two; 
she was older and he was handsome. But money, especially her 
millions, gave her the courage to ask. Besides, she realized that 
money is a fascinating lure. At first Searles seemed hesitant. 
She was, after all, somewhat older than him; twenty-one years 
older in fact. However, Searles seemed to slowly weaken. 



- 6 



Chapter Two 



" GREAT BARRINGTON AND MARRIAGE " 



Chapter Two 
" GREAT BARRING TON AND MARRIAGE " 

Late in the summer of 1881}., Mrs. Hopkins decided to build 
the Great Barrington mansion in the Berkshire mountains of 
Massachusetts. Searles recalled, "She said she would build 
a house if I would do it for her. I said, 'Very well, I'll 
do it.' She asked, 'For how much?' , I said, 'Ten percent.' n 

The plans were prepared by architects McKira, Mead and White, 
of New York, and the ground was broken in April, l88£. In May 
Searles and a friend went to Europe to get suggestions and 
information about the construction and furnishing of the mansion. 
They returned to America two months later on the Fourth of July, 
Searles' forty-fourth birthday. Mrs. Hopkins wrote her adopted 
son, Timothy, that Searles was superintending the construction of 
the house without compensation. Searles knew that she had arrived 
at this decision but it didn't worry him. On reflecting how he 
felt at the time, he later said, "I knew that I would be paid in 
the end, somehow or other." This shows that he was, even then, 
giving some thought to reimbursement for his arrangement with 
Mrs, Hopkins. 

During the next two and a half years, the building of the 
mansion, and the relations between the retired interior decorator 
and wealthy widow progressed smoothly. They travelled about the 
country, to Florida and elsewhere, and attended various music 



recitals. In 1887 they visited Block Island, off the coast of 
Rhode Island, and liked it so well that they purchased some land 
and later built a summer home there, Searles handeled all the 
money and paid out over $900,000. for the building of the 
Great Barrington mansion. 

When he needed money he sent word to California, to Timothy, 
who managed all his mother's business affairs. While assisting 
in the choosing of the interior decorations for the mansion, 
Searles sometimes lived there with Mrs. Hopkins for as long as 
six months, and other times for only a few days. Early in October 
of 1887 they decided to marry by mutual consent. The wedding took 
place in Trinity Chapel, New York, on the morning of November 8, 
1887. After journeying to Methuen, they returned to New York to 
sail to Europe for a six month wedding trip. After returning from 
the wedding trip, Searles busied himself by making alterations on 
the little house he was born in at Methuen, and further decorating 
the Great Barrington place. This mansion rests on a hillside 
which slopes gently down to meet meadow land. It has a frontage 
of one hundred and eighty feet and an average depth of one hundred 
feet. Seven towers and numerous gables break the monotony of the 
massive masonry of blue dolomite quarried across the river. Of the 
forty rooms in the mansion, the most interesting is the library 
which is finished in walnut; the Windsor Room, so called, because 
its doors were brought from Windsor Castle. With the help of the 
railroad wealth the Searleses were living a pleasant life building 
castles on the ground rather than in the air. Until 1890 they 
visited Europe every season, and divided their summers between 



9 - 



Methuen and Great Barrington. 

In the fall of 1890 Mrs. Searles began to be bothered by 
persisting attacks of the grippe. Before that she had hardly 
been ill a day, and then it was only a slight cold. As winter 
came on, Mrs. Morse, a Christian Scientist was summoned by 
Mrs. Searles and she recovered temporarily. In May of 1891 she 
again contracted the grippe and in July a Boston physician 
suggested a change of climate and the Searleses travelled west. 
They returned to Great Barrington shortly afterwards, however, 
without the change having done her any good whatsoever. 

About July fourteenth the attending physician informed 
Searles that although his wife didn't appear to be very ill, her 
condition was really serious. She was a strong woman and would 
ordinarily have recovered from even a severe attack of the grippe 
but her present illness was being complicated by heart trouble, 
dropsy, and old age in general. As it was, it appeared that she 
was the victim of a persistant bad cold. One day she would be 
up and around; the next day she would have to remain in bed. A 
week after learning of the seriousness of his wife's illness, 
Searles went from Great Barrington to New York to procure the 
private railway car they owned. He hoped that by bringing his 
wife to Methuen in the private car she would be able to rest 
comfortably and the change would do her good. When he returned 
from New York with the car she was worse than when he left her. 
Three or four days later, however, in Methuen, she felt well 
enough to go for a short walk in the warm July air. Her strength 
was remarkable. Three days later, at four o'clock in the morning 



10 



of July 25th, 1891, she made the slight change from deep sleep 
to death. She had been married to the man who was twenty-one 
years her junior less than four years when she passed away and 
made him one of the richest men in the United States. The 
California gold mine finally produced pay dirt. 



- 11 - 

Chapter Three 
" THE POWER AND THE KINGDOM " 



- 12 - 

Chapter Three 
" THE POWER AND THE KINGDOM " 

Since his boyhood Searles had had ideas about changing the 
physical appearance of his town. As he walked about Methuen in 
his youth, a poor farm boy, he daydreamed of changing things to 
his own liking. He would imagine how a certain tract of land 
would look without the houses on it that were then there. He 
would rearrange and replan whole districts as he would have them 
if by some miracle he could own them. If he liked a particular 
house and thought that all the others around it were drab and 
ordinary looking, his dream plans had all the houses torn down 
except the one he liked. In his more fantastic dreams he was 
directing the assembling of big mansions out of the various small 
houses that he liked. He was moving them into location so as to 
form wings and gables to his own liking, and tearing down 
everything else to make more room. In his most fantastic dreams 
he dreamt about the castles he would build if he had unlimited 
power. He dreamed he owned vast tracts of land. 

When he began to earn big money as a result of the percentage 
basis on which he was being paid for decorating the homes of the 
wealthy in New York for Herter Brothers, he started to make what 
improvements he could afford around the homestead in Methuen. At 
first he realized only the most modest parts of the dreams he had 
dreamt as a boy. When he came into greater wealth as a result of 
his marriage, the greater became his desire to add wing after wing 



13 - 



to his little farm house. He also built the mansions he had 
dreamed of building out of the various houses he liked. When 
he came into unlimited wealth as a result of his wife's death, 
he began to put into reality the most fantastic of his castle 
building and land owning dreams. But to realize what a triumph 
this was for him we must begin at the beginning. 

When Searles was a young man in Methuen he made a choice; 
rather than prepare himself for a position in the monotony of the 
new machine age, he reasoned that the arts were more important and 
went to Boston where he found a position with a furniture company. 
It wasn't quite as artistic a position as he would have preferred 
but the experience he acquired helped him later on when he applied 
art to practical use in interior decorating. Back in Methuen, when 
Searles made his choice, another youth just a year younger than he 
also made his choice. His name was Charles Tenney and he chose 
security in the monotonous yet prospering machine industries rather 
than beauty and art. 

When Tenney was twenty-three he married Miss Fanny Gleason, 
daughter of a prominent Methuen hat manufacturer, and eventually 
succeeded him in the firm. Soon after that he and an older 
brother had their own hat factory and were amassing small fortunes. 
By 1870 Tenney was buying real estate in the better residential 
sections of town with the idea in mind of choosing the most 
appealing section of it one day to build there a permanent family 
home. In 1876 he began buying tracts of land very close to the 
Searles homestead. And in March of 1880, when he purchased a 



34 



fifteen-acre tract immediately adjoining the Searles land, it 
was obvious that this was the site he had chosen to form his 
estate. 

If this incident had not occured, no doubt Searles would 
not have begun to buy up land when he did but rather would have 
waited until he was more financially secure. As it was, he 
realized that Tenney had stepped in and disturbed his plans for 
acquiring all the land around the place where he was born. No 
doubt Tenney 1 s presence on the scene was a strong incentive for 
Searles to try all the harder to climb fortune f s ladder. He was, 
perhaps, envious of Charles Tenney' s present cultural and financial 
status. Searles determined to let it be known that he too intended 
to enlarge his land holdings for the purpose of forming an estate. 
In October of 1880, the same year that Tenney acquired the fifteen- 
acre tract, Searles bought an acre of land adjoining the homestead, 
cancelled the mortgage that had been on his place since he went to 
Europe, and bought one other parcel of land. In 1883, after Tenney 
sold out his share in the hat factory to his brother and was busy 
in New York establishing a hat commission house, Searles managed 
to buy two more parcels of land. Prom the location of these, across 
the street from his own land, it is apparent that he was planning a 
large scale expansion. This would infer that even at that early 
date he had the idea in mind of buying the very streets of the town, 
which he later did. 

Then, after the purchase of these two parcels, he suddenly 
stopped buying land. That same year, 1883, Mrs. Hopkins had 
proposed marriage to him and although he didn't accept immediately, 



15 



he was so fascinated by the idea of marrying into that much 
wealth that from then on, he may have needed all the income 
from his savings to keep in step with her during various trips 
to Florida and other places. By this time he had retired from 
Herter Brothers and was relying solely on his savings. 

In March, 1886, he found it necessary, once again, to take 
out a mortgage on his home and land in Methuen. The seven 
thousand dollars that he received on the seven acre tract carried 
him over until November, 1887, when he married Mrs. Hopkins. In 
1888, after his fortune was large enough so that he could have 
bought up the whole town if he had had enough real estate agents, 
he recommenced buying land. In that year he purchased seven 
parcels of land, one or more of which bordered on the Tenney 
property proving that Searles was finally giving him some 
competition. By this time, however, Charles Tenney had bought up 
all the most desirable land on top of the hill overlooking the 
Searles place, and Searles had to satisfy himself with scattered 
pieces near the bottom and within the town itself. 

Although he later succeeded in getting the town f s permission 
to reroute some streets so that he might enclose all of his 
property within one wall, he could not very well have asked them 
to sell him a main street which ran near his property. In 1888, 

however, the town voted 

"To give Mr. E. P. Searles the right to improve, 

at his own expense, the roads and sidewalks opposite 

his estate, to put in a drinking fountain on the square 
opposite his residence, to improve the cemetery and 



16 



lands adjoining, belonging to the town, - - and such 
other alterations as he may see fit for the improvement 
of that part of the town." 

He changed the appearance of the street and surrounding 
territory from that of a country road to that type that is seen 
in strictly residential districts. He was also successful in 
preventing it from becoming a noisy thoroughfare. In July of 
1889 the Lawrence Daily American, which obviously had a bone 
to pick with Searles, ran the following article.... 

"It was enough to make the trees smile to read 
that list of 'over a hundred names of prominent citizens 
and businessmen' who protested against the laying of 
horse car tracks through Lawrence Street. The list as 
presented contained just 9^4- names, and of these 21 are 
directly or indirectly in the employ of Millionaire 
Searles, one was the paid counsel of Mr. Searles, and 
of the others one half would be as ready today to sign 
a petition on the other side - so much for that." 
This was the beginning of the newspaper slander that was to 
continue for many years. It served to increase Searles 1 
dislike for the noisy mill city. 

After he returned from his wedding trip to Europe, his 
chief interest was obviously in the land that surrounded the 
place where he was bora, the land in Methuen. With his wife's 
wealth at his disposal, Searles proceeded to practically buy up 
the town. At the rate he was buying property, if he had lived 
the length of his life again he very possibly would have achieved 



17 



what might have been his goal - that of owning the entire village 
in which he was born, the place he loved. 

With very few exceptions his purchases of land radiated in 
every direction with the old homestead as the center. As the 
years went by and his holdings increased, his purchases stretched 
farther and farther away from the original six acres. Between 
1888 and the year of his death he transacted two hundred and 
fifty-three different purchases of land around his home and 
throughout Methuen. He commissioned five men to buy land for him 
so that the persons from whom the purchases were being made wouldn't 
know that it was for the millionaire, Searles, and boost their 
prices accordingly. Any map of the town, published at the turn of 
the century, which featured the name of the owner on each parcel 
of land throughout the town, gives evidence as to the extent of 
property which Searles owned. Although it is a gross exaggeration 
to say that he owned the whole town, it is a fact that he owned a 
good part of it. He owned so much of the town and was so well 
known that the mapmakers simply put his initials, "E. P. S.", on 
his property instead of his full name, as it was on all other 
properties on the map. 

In the autumn of 1889 he cancelled the mortgage he had taken 
out in 1886, before his marriage. He was safely married now and 
didn't mind his wife knowing that he hadn't always been wealthy. 

In fact he wanted the whole town to know that he was at last 
quite the wealthy man. In September of 1889 the Lawrence Daily 
American wrote, 

"For four long hours Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Millionaire 



18 - 



Searles permitted the public to gaze upon the beauties 
of his private grounds, and it is said that about two 
hundred persons availed themselves of the privilege 
during that time . " 
Although this notice in the neighboring city newspaper was not 
half so biting as was most of their gossip about him - only 
nicknaming him "Millionaire Searles", perhaps out of envy - 
the following December they printed an article which really 
laid it on heavy.... 

"Millionaire Searles again had a British flag 
flying from his flag staff the first of the week. The 
act is denounced by parties of all nationalities, and 
is, to say the least, a discourteous one to the 
n at i onal embl em • " 
No doubt Searles was upset when he read this. The fact is that 
he was truly pro British. We must remember that at this time 
Britain was an extremely powerful empire and Searles' admiration 
for the brain power that ran it was profound. He had been deeply 
impressed by Queen Victoria and her court when he visited London 
on his wedding trip. And later on he saved many newspaper articles 
concerning the Queen for his huge scrapbook. 

Prom the tone of the following excerpts, it quite likely was 
envy that caused the writer on the Lawrence Daily American to 
write as he did: 

"Mrs. 'Mark Hopkins' Searles and her husband, of this 
town, have gone to California where they will spend the 
coming winter." 



19 - 



And later on, 

"A special train chartered for the purpose of 
bringing Millionaire Searles and wife to town, arrived 
over the Boston and Maine railroad at eleven o'clock 
Saturday evening." 

By 1890 Searles was secure in the power of his wealth and 
began to direct operations in his little kingdom. It was a 
decade in which he was to begin to form his kingdom and feel the 
power of his wealth. Near his mansion there was a large Baptist 
Church painted a bright yellow. He volunteered to pay for its 
painting, whenever it was needed, if he might paint it a color 
of his own choosing. Prom then on the building was painted a 
rich brown and was not so distracting an edifice as it was before, 
so near his own estate. 

In November of 1890 he bought, from John Tenney, one of 
Charles Tenney 's brothers, the land and buildings adjoining the 
Baptist Church property and informed the pastor that he was going 
to build a rectory for him. He had three of the houses on the 
property moved together and proceeded to have his men remodel 
them into a fine house, much like the ones he had dreamt of 
building as a youth. The plumber was installing a stove in the 
finished building one day, when the pastor came in and remarked 
that the stove was hardly a proper model for a rectory. The 
plumber answered that he was only following orders, and that he 
had better see Mr. Searles. The next day Searles told the plumber 
to lock up the house and bring the keys down to him the next 



- 20 - 

morning. The deal was off; the church received no rectory. 
That is the way things went. If the benefactors were the least 
bit uncautious before they were legally in possession, they 
never acquired the gift. 

Searles secured the electrical power for his estate from 
dynamos situated in an old woolen mill which he had bought in 
1889. This mill was several hundred yards away from his mansion 
and he was compelled to either buy up the land in between or 
secure rights from the owners to set poles and string wires across 
their property. He preferred to own the land in order that he 
need depend on no one. This was the first time that he tried to 
buy up a continuous stretch of land and he met with difficulty 
then as he was to meet it several times afterwards in similar 
circumstances. Some people wouldn't sell merely because they 
knew someone else really wanted something they owned; or the land 
had been in the possession of the same family for generations and 
the owners wouldn't sell under any conditions. And others, 
learning that it was Searles who wanted their land, set their 
prices so high that he had to refuse to buy as a matter of self 
respect. Even with these difficulties he bought up so much land 
that by 1891 he was paying nine hundred percent higher taxes than 
anyone else in town, with the exception of the two largest mills. 

In October of 1891, three months after Searles' wife died, he 
invited the Boston Pusileer Veterans to come to Methuen to marvel 
at the beauties of his estate. They took the electric cars from 
Lawrence to Methuen and assembled there to march to the estate 



- 21 



where they were permitted to tour the grounds. Nothing delighted 
Searles so much as to bewilder people with his personal landscaped 
paradise. Later in the day the veterans were banqueted by Searles 
in the town hall. There he was given three rousing cheers, elected 
an honorary member, and presented with an oak-framed photograph of 
the company. He responded pleasantly, expressing his pleasure 
for the gift and saying that Methuen was honored by their visit. 
Frank Searles himself had become the wealthiest, most honored and 
respected citizen in town. He had changed from a farmboy to a 
millionaire; and his land had changed from a farm to a millionaire ' i 
showplace. 

The trial in which an unsuccessful attempt was made to break 
his wife f s will began in the same month as the Boston Veterans 1 
visit, and was settled out of court in March of the next year, 
1892. He then traveled for a year and a half. When he returned 
to Methuen, at the end of that time, his chief interest was still 
in expanding his estate. 

Although Charles Tenney's Carrere & Hastings-designed French 
chateau had been completed for a year, the family was only 
spending summers there since Mr. Tenney^ business kept him in 
New York, and his wife preferred the city to the monotony of the 
country town. The chateau, called Grey Court, was a beautiful 
addition to the country landscape. Its delicate lines on the top 
of a high hill overlook the Searles mansion, towers, walls, rolling 
green meadow, and the town beyond. Seen from outside the wall- 
enclosed meadow, it seemed like a grand old monarch guarding the 



- 22 



tournament field below. 

With Tenney in New York most of the time, the land buying 
competition dropped off to nothing. In September, 1893, the 
New Yorker even conceeded to sell Searles a long strip of land 
and the house on it, adjacent to his meadow, providing that he 
could retain a right-of-way into the meadow. Searles had always 
wanted this property but he especially wanted it now as a site 
for the monument of George Washington which he had commissioned 
Thomas Ball to sculpt. Later, however, he changed his mind and 
chose a different site for the monument, 

Searles was in the habit of clipping newspaper articles on 
people or things with whom he was acquainted. For example, 
Daniel Chester French, the great sculptor who had studied under 
Thomas Ball and who had once visited his Great Barrington mansion. 
Thereafter Searles saved every article he came across dealing 
with Mr. French, Possibly through Truette, the organist who had 
studied under Guilmant, Searles became acquainted with the famed 
French composer, and for some unknown reason sent him a picture 
of his mansion. Guilmant kindly wrote back thanking him for it - 
in FrenchJ Searles pasted the thank-you note in his scrapbook 
with a firm hand. When the New York newspapers ran a story, with 
his picture, to mark his appointment as a Director of the Southern 
Pacific Railroad, he was in his glory. That too was pasted into 

the scrapbook. In all the clipped articles his name was underlined 
in blue crayon. 



23 - 



Searles was aware that his plans and actions added to his 
prestige. In England, while on his wedding trip, he had a 
picture taken of himself wearing the court dress he had worn 
when presented to Queen Victoria, He had a copy framed to hang 
in his mansion. In London he engaged a company of professional 
genealogists to look up the Searles lineage. It is interesting 
to know the history of one»s family but it is not every man who 
can afford it. 

Searles instructed the company to send him a copy of each 
book to which they referred in compiling his genealogy, that he 
might add them to his library. All these books had markers at 
the pages where the Searles name was mentioned and formed, no 
doubt, an important part of his library. He donated a copy of 
the finished genealogy to the Boston Public Library. It is a 
handsome, fifteen-inch square, leather bound book with many 
illustrations of famous English cathedrals and towns to add 
importance to the dry genealogical facts. Although the 
genealogists found no royal blood, there was one Daniel Searle 
who was Governor of Barbados in the middle of the seventeenth 
century. Prom the size of the book, and the elegance of its 
printing, the English lineage company must have sent Searles 
quite a large bill. They even included the Searles coat of arms 
consisting of a half -embossed shield design. This half-shield 
was given to all knights, in the days of yore, who had not yet 
performed a notable deed. After such a deed had been accomplished, 
the unembossed half of the shield was engraved with an appropriate 
design to represent the deed. Searles had this half-shield design 



- 2k 



put into stone for his mantlepiece, into wood for his paneling, 
and into metal for his wrought-iron gates. 

Because of the prestige his wealth gave him the majority of 
the townspeople, and some of his employees, were awed by Searles 1 
position and the power this wealth gave to him. Still, there 
remained those in town who regularly had business with him who 
felt at ease in his presence. For instance, Joseph Howe, the 
town treasurer and tax collector, was often visited by Searles 
for advice about legal matters and gifts to the town. Another 
was George Wilson, the man in charge of Searles' house moving 
operations. The old Park Street schoolhouse, where Searles went 
to school with Arthur Gage, George Wilson, and Johnny Gross, was 
moved from the corner of Park and Lawrence Streets to a lot several 
hundred feet farther down Park Street. It stood there until about 
1900 when Searles bought it and had it torn down. George Wilson, 
who became the house mover for Searles, claimed that he and Searles 
were not only classmates but very good friends. He said that the 
boys, back about l8£0 or 1855, wouldn't play with Prank Searles 
and that he told them that if they would not let Prank go along 
with them he would not go either. Obviously, Searles had one 
good friend in the crowd. 

Another man in town, who also seems to have known Searles 
from way back, was the town drunk. Whenever he saw Searles he 
would habitually yell, "Hi Frank!" , in a boisterous, boozy tone, 
Searles always smiled and returned the greeting - far from the 
aloof personage the Lawrence newspapers claimed him to be. 



- 25 - 
Chapter Pour 
" PINE LODGE AND THE GREAT ORGAN " 



- 26 - 

Chapter Pour 
" PINE LODGE AND THE GREAT ORGAN " 

Throughout America, as the factories spread and the 
railroads covered more and more territory, their owners were 
making incredible fortunes. It was a materialistic world and 
the highest virtue was to be the most clever in the competitive 
game of machine manufacturing. The newly rich could elevate 
their position in society by displaying awesome evidence of 
their worldly wealth. Thus, after having amassed their fortunes, 
they competed with one another in spending great sums to maintain 
their social positions. European trips, fancy horses, motor cars 
and yachts partly solved their problem but by the time the ^O's 
rolled around, what really counted was the degree of magnificence 
and amount of floor space of the mansions in which they lived. 
While each country of Europe had a definite style of its own, the 
American millionaires sought to prove their eligibility to 
membership in the upper class by copying all of them at once. The 
results were, quite often, fantastic. Architectural crimes or not, 
the wealthy Americans were proud to live in their castles and 
mansions and found people eager to staff them from the swarms of 
immigrants pouring into the country from England, Ireland, and the 
Continent. Searles fell into step with his wealthy fellow-countrymen 
by changing the little family farm house into a fantastic, rambling 
mansion. As early as l88l, even before he retired from Herter 
Brothers, he had begun remodeling and enlarging the farm house; 



27 - 



but it wasn't until after his marriage, in 1887, that he began 
to completely remodel it in the Greek Revival style. 

When Greece was waging a desperate struggle for freedom 
against the Turks early in the nineteenth century, sympathy for 
her here in America ran so high that towns throughout the country 
began adopting Greek names like Athens, Syracuse, Sparta and Troy. 
Houses all the way from Massachusetts to Florida began to resemble 
temples of the gods, creating a style that was popular until the 
middle of the century, and even later with some people such as 
Searles. The results of this craze for the classic in architecture 
was termed the Greek Revival. The liberties which American 
carpenters took with the Greek details produced an effect half 
functional, half Greek, but more importantly, gave many American 
homes an air of clean perfection and dignity. 

Searles 1 additions to Pine Lodge, as he had named the farmhouse, 
occurred annually and sometimes semi-annually, always in the Greek 
Revival style, throughout the remainder of his life. It wasn't 
long before one wing had all the gables and porticoes it could 
hold, and then another wing would be added. Walls were pushed out, 
rooms added, and columned porticoes added to them. Then the portico 
would be enveloped by more rooms and a new one would have to be 
built. In this process the old well, that was once in the front of 
the house, was caught in a room of a new wing and became, perhaps, 
the first indoor well in town. Searles was perhaps happiest when 
he was planning these additions than he was at any other time in 
his life. He would often stop reading in the middle of a book 



28 - 



and sketch, on the end pages, an idea for a new addition just 
as it came to him while he was half reading, half dreaming of 
his architectural fantasy. He then showed his sketch to his 
architect, Henry Vaughan of Boston, told him just what he wanted, 
and plans for another addition would be drawn up. 

Some distance to the rear of Pine Lodge there was a very 
tall, skeleton-framed structure supporting a windmill which drew 
water from a spring for use in the mansion. As the mansion's new 
additions became more elaborate and moved closer towards this 
windmill structure, Searles had the frame enclosed making it into 
a five story Greek Revival tower to match the style of the growing 
mansion. It was truly a beautiful windmill. 

The townspeople were quick to call Prank Searles eccentric. 
Envious of his good fortune, they took advantage of the slightest 
excuse to ridicule his building projects. True, his estate did 
look rather strange with its high, classic windmill tower showing 
in the distance between monolithic, bronze tripod-topped columns 
and with Greek statuary on the lawns and on top of the mansion 
itself, but it was no stranger than the account of his fortune. 

If there was one thing Searles knew well from experience, it 
was period furniture. As a furniture salesman for Paul and Company 
of Boston, and interior decorator for Herter Brothers in New York, 
he became well acquainted with antiques of the Italian, French, and 
English periods, and particularly enjoyed selecting and buying them 
during his frequent trips through Europe. As a poor man collects 
tin Wilkie buttons and makes a card on which to display them, so a 
wealthy man collects sets of antique furniture of a particular 



- 29 



period and builds rooms in the same period style in which to 
display them. This furniture collecting hobby naturally requires 
the building of room after room as the collection grows. And that 
is probably the main reason that the mansions of wealthy Americans, 
at the turn of the century when collecting was the fad, were such 
rambling architectural curiosities. They were simply an integral 
part of a very expensive hobby. Especially considering Prank 
Searles 1 background and interests in fine furnishings, this hobby 
was, even more likely than in most cases, responsible for the 
sprawling seventy-four room mansion that he built. 

With the wealth he had to back him up, he toured Prance, 
England, and Italy searching for pieces to suit his fancy and buying 
whatever he liked. He seems to have particularly liked French 
furniture of the Louis XV period. Without doubt, the line of design 
in this style is much more graceful and flowing than the rather 
stiff style of the Italian and English. And furniture was not all 
he collected. He sent back to America shipment after shipment of 
statuary, vases, relief carvings, tapestries, mirrors, paintings, 
armor, fine chinaware, and countless knick-knacks to supplement 
his collection of period furniture. 

While in England he purchased a tortoise shell, mother of pearl 
inlaid chest from a direct descendant of Lord Methuen, the namesake 
of his hometown in Massachusetts. In Prance he acquired some of 
the original tapestry of "The Field of the Cloth of Gold", which 
dates back to l£20 when Henry VIII of England conferred with 
Francis I of Prance in the town of Guisnes, Prance. These richly 
adorned tapestries were especially woven for that occasion. They 



- 30 



depict scenes from the life of Scipio Africanus and, until Searles 
purchased them, had never been out of the possession of the French 
royal Mazarin family. There he also obtained a marble fireplace 
from the Tuileries, and a painting, "The Coronation of Napoleon." 

He engaged Irving and Casson - Interior Decorators of Boston 
to do the interiors of the rooms in which he placed his period 
furniture. Each room had to be done in the same period style as 
the furniture and required clever craftsmen. A Mr. Lewis Brown, 
who is still with the Boston company, remembers Searles' frequent 
visits to the Newbury Street establishment to purchase and select 
various materials to decorate his rooms. Searles was particularly 
fond of velours of different shades which he used to cover the 
walls of his rooms. Mr. Brown recalls pointing out to Searles 
that his practice of putting newspapers on the walls underneath 
the velour, to protect it from moths, was needless since moths 
have a distinct dislike for the velour. Searles, however, 
continued to use newspapers. Mr. Brown remembers Searles as one 
of that type of immaculately-dressed, distinguished persons whom 
it would be highly improper to imform that he was doing something 
in the wrong way. 

After surveying Searles' rambling mansion and its miscellaneous 
art contents, we can make one deduction: he was intelligent enough 
to have an active collector's interest in beautiful things but he 
did not set his standards for perfect beauty as high as his vast 
wealth made it possible for him to set them. As a result, he was 
able to collect a good deal more material than he would have if his 
standards had been higher. It follows that since he collected more 



31 - 



material than he should have, he also had to build a larger 
mansion to house it than he should have. So he created a 
curiosity, not a collection of art befitting his wealth. 

It would be an injustice to leave our study of Searles' 
ability as an aesthetic connoisseur at this point when he is not 
shown in a very favorable light. In later years he may have 
realized that his mansion was a confusion of wings and gables 
lacking the simplicity of beauty, and moved out of it to live in 
a beautiful, English country style, manor house which he built 
nearby. Even then he could not bring himself to destroy the old 
mansion, but rather kept it as a curiosity full of curiosities. 
But that will be described in another chapter. 

A good idea of the type of life Searles lived may be seen by 
examining the important events in his life during one year. In 
1895* for example, we learn from various sources what he was doing 
during different months of the year. Prom the diaries of Charles 
Mann, Sr., the town's water commissioner and also a general 
contractor, we know that in March, l895> Mr. and Mrs. Mann were 
among fifty guests who were invited to Pine Lodge on Searles' 
"at home" day. Mr. Mann wrote in his diary that on that occasion 
Searles said, "There is nothing too good for Howe Street." No 
doubt he was referring to what he had done to beautify Marston's 
Corner, an intersection on Howe Street facing Charles Mann's farm. 
He had purchased land there, planted trees, erected a monument to 
the ancient blacksmith after whom the corner was named, and then 
deeded it to the town. Beautifying various locations about the 



32 



town which appealed to him was one of Searles 1 favorite pastimes. 
The following month, Mr. Mann and his wife again visited Searles 
after church one Sunday and he entertained them in the music room. 
No doubt that this was a memorable occasion for them - being 
entertained by the wealthiest and most dignified man in town. 
In the next month, May, Mr. Mann wrote in his diary of a walk he, 
Searles, and his favorite organist, Bverette Truette, had taken 
across the fields to visit Joseph Howe, the town clerk, tax collector 
and treasurer. Such were the things that occupied Searles' time. 

To break the small town monotony, however, Searles frequently 
visited Great Barrington or New York. A Great Barrington newspaper 
clipping, from Searles 1 scrapbook, tells us that in August of l89£ 
about a hundred invited guests assembled in the large music room 
at Searles 1 mansion, Kellogg Terrace, to listen to an organ concert 
by Professor Henry Dunham of the Boston Conservatory of Music, and 
Everette E. Truette of Boston. 

"It was a most charming musicale and a memorable 
event in the summer life of Southern Berkshire." 

After l89£, Searles rarely visited the Great Barrington mansion 
and later began removing its paintings, organ, collection of musical 
instruments, furniture, grand staircase railings, and the carved 
doors from Windsor Castle - which he had purchased in 188A4. - to his 
Methuen and Windham estates, as he became absorbed in his future 
building plans. He also brought all the hired help to Methuen to 
work for him there rather than dismiss them. They were Arthur Brown, 
a cockney, who served as Searles' valet; Mr. Bell, his secretary who 
lived in Boston and went home weekends; and Walter Jones, who served 
as general handyman* 



33 - 



Trips to New York and Great Barrington, beautifying districts 
of the town that appealed to him, and holding "at home" days are 
the major events in Searles' life in this typical year of 1895. 
They are obviously commonplace events hardly in harmony with his 
uncommon fortune. In November of 1895, however, an event occurred 
which is by far the most interesting of all of them. The "Methuen 
Transcript", the town's only newspaper, announced in its Thanksgiving 
Day issue, with a four-page supplement of photographs and editorials, 
that it was using fine new type, that from then on the paper would 
be much more devoted to news of local interest than it had been, 
that the presses and offices were functioning smoothly in their new 
quarters on Broadway, and that they would be open for the public's 
inspection during the following week. The announcement did not 
mention that Searles had bought the building four years before this 
time, remodeled it into a newspaper plant, and organized the new 
company, all for the purpose of counteracting the uncomplimentory 
articles that were being directed towards him in the newspapers of 
the neighboring city of Lawrence. 

In 1891 he bought the building from the Methuen Cotton Company 
where he had worked as a boy. He then arranged with Charles Barnard, 
who had a job printing office in town, to act as editor, and Edwin 
Castle, who ran a drug store and grocery, to act as treasurer. 
Castle was already indebted to Searles for his helping to finance 
both of his businesses. In return he served as Searles 1 mouthpiece 
whenever discussions came up in town meeting concerning Searles' 
beautifying projects about the town. 

Barnard lost no time before writing editorials of a highly 



- 3k - 

complimentory nature about his boss. The following was taken 

from Searles 1 scrapbook of newspaper clippings: 

"Most men apprehend the fact that as citizens, 
they owe certain duties to the town they live in, to 
the state, and to the nation. They pay their taxes and 
expect to pay them. It cannot be said that they always 
do this willingly or honestly, but they know that they 
must pay something for the laws that protect them, for 
the roads that give them passage across the country, and 
for the support of the government. 

"So far so good, but there is something very essential 
beyond this. A great majority of the public fail to 
appreciate the fact that membership in a social community 
involves duties just as really and distinctly as family 
ties or citizenship. Every man owes certain things to 
the community in which he lives. There is no wise scheme 
of town improvement to which he does not owe his support 
and encouragement. There is field for improvement in 
this respect right here in Methuen. Too many people 
content themselves with watching and criticizing the 
larger works of the limited few, forgetting all the while 
that there are plain duties of a very simple nature to 
which they ought to be giving, their attention. To our 
knowledge a great many spruce trees were cut down in 
different sections of the town, at Christmas time* The 
same work of vandalism goes on through the year. 

"Several of the pretty woodlands owned by Mr. E. P. 



- 35 



Searles, have for years suffered from vandal hands. 
Many beautiful specimens have been cut down and others 
ruined. On Lawrence Street persons have even reached 
over the fence to clip branches from the trees. Mr. 
Searles has given the town some 1^00 trees to beautify 
our roadsides, besides buying prettily wooded spots 
simply to protect them from destruction. Naturally 
enough he does not appreciate this sort of treatment 
and abuse of a good work in the interests of the town. 

"It is said that if this and other forms of 
lawlessness are not ended that he proposes to adopt 
vigorous means to protect his vast estate upon which he 
has expended so much money and labor in the effort to 
beautify it, all of which has in a measure rebounded to 
the benefit of the town. It seems certain that somebody f s 
lawless and ill-trained boys will get into very hot water 
if the parents cannot arouse themselves to the need of 
better teaching. 

"It is all very well to ask wealthy and liberal 
citizens to expend money and energy in the improvement 
and beautifying of the town, but the public owe it to 
themselves and the donors to see that such good works are 
appreciated and merited, especially when this means simply 
giving protection to that which has already been done. 
Those who have the responsibilities for the training of 
the young have a duty in this direction to perform, and 
there are signs of much laxity." 



36 



And another Barnard editorial: 

"The Methuen Organ Works, on Broadway, has been 
the subject of many comments and inquiries as to the 
business there conducted. To the outsider, it is true, 
there are few indications of a 'hustling' business. 
This place has not the general appearance of the 
ordinary factory, and is devoid of the smoke, dirt and 
disagreeable odors which so often surround such work shops. 

"The impressing classical facade gives no suggestion 
of the ordinary manufacturing establishment; and as this 
business has no local dependency, it does not become 
necessary to advertise by glaring sign boards. It has 
been proven to the writer by a visit, that there is 
conducted at this establishment a business of high 
artistic order and also of a large extent. 

"Methuen people ought to feel pleased that such a 
business is located here. Through its exquisite work 
this concern has added much lustre to the honored name 
of the town." 

Searles bought the building, in which the organ factory was 
located, in 1889, a year after his marriage. Situated beside the 
town's old mill pond, it was originally built as a woolen mill and 
used a water wheel for power. At first Searles used it to house 
his United States Tubular Bell Company, which furnished chimes for 
the bell tower at Pine Lodge. In 1892 he engaged James Treat, an 
intelligent Boston organ builder, to build organs for him in the 



37 - 



Methuen factory. One John Ingraham, who was very friendly 
with Searles, acted as foreman. The year that the Boston Symphony 
Hall was being readied for the public, Searles and Ingraham 
stopped in to view the new organ that was being installed by 
Ernest Skinner, builder of many fine instruments and now residing 
in Brookline, Massachusetts. Mr. Skinner describes Searles, when 
they were introduced, as tall, well dressed and wearing a light 
brown moustache. He also states that Treat built about fourteen 
organs in the Methuen factory. Searles gave most of them to 
church groups. 

The organ factory building was a very interesting structure. 
To begin with, its cellar beams were made from logs which had been 
cut only on two sides, the other two being left with the bark still 
clinging. Sach jointed timber from cellar to attic was neatly and 
painstakingly pegged with long wooden pegs. Huge eight by twelve 
timbers braced from various angles by other heavy beams supported 
three stories and a large attic. During its ownership by Searles, 
a two-story portico supported by four large wooden columns, another 
two-story wing, the bottom floor of which contained an arched 
underpass for a driveway, and an elaborate interior stairway were 
all added. He also built, by tearing through the first and second 
floors, a heavily decorated organ test-hall, the ceiling cupola of 
which protruded up through the attic. The attic of the building, 
as a result of the many alterations, had become a maze of rooms and 
stairways leading to attics and rooms in lower adjoining wings. 

Prom the street, the building, which had been painted dark 



- 38 - 

grey, looked like a deserted opera house. Because large, old 
trees surrounded the building, it appeared to be in a half-light 
even in the daytime. 

Through Searles' venture into the organ building business 
he naturally came into contact with many different church groups. 
Although he pretended that this was a business venture, it really 
was only the medium by which he continued to practice interior 
decorating. This is proven by the fact that it was his practice, 
after having secured the option for building an organ, to proceed 
to completely remodel the interior of the church or even to build 
a new one at his own expense. He built new churches for five 
different church groups. 

Searles saved the newspaper notices of the recitals of the 
organs which he donated to various local churches. He evidently 
was pleased that the organs were being put to good use. There 
follows one of editor Barnard's Methuen Transcript accounts of 
a recital held in the factory's elaborate testing hall on an 
organ which was to go to St. Paul's church in Lawrence: 

"At the conclusion of the exhibition of the new organ, 
the party was priviledged to make a tour of inspection 
through the adjoining rooms, including 'Sawgrist Hall', 
where a magnificent organ has been erected for private use. 
Considerable time was thus spent in viewing the collection 
of old and rare instruments, beautiful tapestries and 
paintings, richly carved antique furniture and many other 
works of art. 



39 



"When this company was organized it was the 
intention of the parties interested to establish a 
business of high order. The success of the concern 
has been due in a large degree to the deep interest 
of the principal member of the company whose main 
object has been to attain perfection in organ building, 
rather than to realize large profits on the work 
undertaken. It has been conceeded by eminent organists 
of this country that one of the large organs built by 
this company, as a memorial, is without exception the 
finest in the world." 

James Treat, John Ingraham, David Bruce, Dan Cogswell, Eben 
Sawyer and George Whiting all worked for Searles in the organ 
factory and boarded nearby at the Park Street Boarding House 
which was operated by Arthur Gage who went to school with Searles. 

The Methuen Organ Company, under the direction of James Treat, 
built the organ which Searles presented to the Grace Episcopal 
Church of San Francisco. As many invitations were sent out to the 
people of Methuen and Lawrence as the factory's hall would 
accomodate to be present at the recital to test the organ previous 
to shipment. Mr. Everette E. Truette of Boston played for the 
greater part of the recital. The stained native oak of this organ 
was beautifully worked and the architectural design was by Henry 
Vaughan, Searles 1 own architect. After the testing, Mr. Treat 
accompanied the instrument to California to supervise its erection. 
Its estimated cost was $£0,000. it was eventually lost in the 
fire and earthquake of 1906. 



ko - 



Searles clipped a newspaper article, for his scrapbook, 
describing a huge old organ that was going to be sold at auction 
in Boston. The organ's mechanism was built in Germany in 1863 
and the case was carved and assembled in New York by Herter 
Brothers, the decorating company for whom Searles had worked. 
It had stood in the Boston Music Hall for twenty years and then 
was sold to make room for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It 
remained in storage until 1897 when Searles bought it at auction. 
According to an article Mr. Treat wrote for a Boston paper at the 
time of the auction, the interior mechanism was obsolete and 
worthless. Between 1905 and 1909 Searles had the works removed 
in his factory and installed new electrical devices. It is 
probably the only organ in existence which had a hall especially 
built to house it. In most cases the organ is merely a furnishing 
for the hall. 

The magnificently carved case dominates the entire hall so 
that one hardly notices the exquisite ceiling - rather only the 
dark, overdecorated organ case. The atlantes, at either side of 
the console, are the distinguishing features of this organ case. 
They are accentuated carvings of masculine strength at supreme 
perfection. Like each blast of the organ, each muscle in the 
upper portions of these male torsos is full and has the perfection 
that is part of mature development. They are collosal pillars of 
power supporting a gigantic burden. Each muscle of the chest, 
abdomen, and arms, below the massive yet finely modeled face, is 
tensed to the tremendous weight each is bearing. They are 
enormous yet perfect. As a seperate feature, their perfection 



- kl 



would seem incredible but as an integral part of the case they 
are the keys to the strength of the complete organ. 

Recently, after the building had been shut up for years, 
a friend and I, at the age when boys don't realize the penalties 
to be experienced for entering private property, skipped school 
one day and cautiously climbed into what to us was a deserted 
medieval palace. Sawdust, woodshavings, and spiderwebs covered 
more prize trash than we had ever before seen. We were in ecstasy 
over the fortune of junk within our grasp. We found old calendars 
on the walls, amazing little parts of organs, a pair of old 
spectacles, a board made of many different kinds of wood advertising 
organ casements, busts of Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven in the organ 
testing room, an old bellows used to melt the lead for the organ 
pipes, three murals painted on wood so worm eaten as to make them 
seem six hundred years old, hundreds of organ pipes that made deep 
and high sounds when we blew into them, a funny old hat with a pin 
on it that read "1909", and a million and one other things, 
worthless to many, treasured by small boys. In the attic we were 
frightened by the dark corners and the startled pigeons, yet we 
dared to explore every room and the contents of each mysterious box. 
We looked down on the street from a high attic window and wondered 
if anyone would discoved us in our castle of musty halls and 
treasure laden rooms. For many days we steal thfully visited our 
child's wonderland, each visit more exciting than the last. Then, 
one night as I lay in my bed dreaming of finding things which only 
a small boy's mind could conceive, I restlessly turned onto my left 



- kz - 

side facing the window and vaguely noticed a distinct red glow 
in the eastern sky, I quickly dressed and ran to where I could 
look across the river into a miniature valley where the building 
stood, now a gigantic mass of flames and falling timbers. Thus 
the fate was sealed for one of the town's old buildings and the 
basis of more than one of my imaginative dreams. 

On the wall of the especially-built organ hall Searles 
placed a six foot by twelve foot relief-carving, in Carrara marble, 
of "The Aurora" by Guido Reni. "The Aurora" is that well known 
scene which depicts the herald of the dawn by the familiar figure 
in a horse drawn chariot riding over the clouds with angels above. 
The owners of the Pitti Palace, in Florence, Italy, gave their 
permission for Searles to have this relief carving copied. It was 
finished by Carlo Nicoli in 1897. 

It will be remembered that in 1889 Searles commissioned 
Thomas Ball, the American sculptor who had his studio in Florence, 
Italy, to do a heroic sized statue of George Washington. Searles 
immediately began buying house lots across the street from his 
mansion, and had the houses torn down or moved to make space large 
enough to accomodate the monument. After Mr. Ball had the bronze 
figures for the monument cast in Munich it was shipped to this 
country and delivered at Chicago where Searles permitted it to be 
displayed for the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. After remaining 
in Chicago for five years it was brought to Methuen to be assembled 
at its final resting place. On February 21, 1900 Searles prepared 
to have the statue's temporary wooden housing dismantled in the 
night in order to surprise the townspeople on the next day, 



u 



Washington's Birthday. Workmen with heavy draft horses were 
told to report to the site after dark and say nothing to anybody. 
They came in a terrible downpour of rain and worked all night 
taking down the heavy wooden structure which had hidden the 
monument for over a year. The next morning the people of 
Methuen saw a monument worthy of a position in any park in any 
of the largest cities in the country. 

Mr. Ball resided in Florence, Italy for thirty years, the 
last seven of which were engaged in executing the statue of 
Washington. He was a native of Boston, where several of his works 
may be seen, notably, his bronze figures of Charles Sumner and 
Josiah Quincy, his marble statue of John Andrew, and his equestrian 
statue of Washington. He is represented in New York's Central 
Park by his colossal bronze of Webster. Washington, D. C. has 
his "Lincoln Freeing the Slave." P. T. Barnum sat before him 
for the bronze figure of the circus man which is in Bridgeport, 
Connecticut. 

"The figure of Washington," said Mr. Ball speaking of the 
Methuen monument, "is alone fifteen feet high. The Father of 
His Country is shown with his military cloak wrapped around him, 
his left hand on his sword, and his right extended over a female 
figure representing Opression - young Columbia, fettered. Around 
the monument are three companion figures" - one at each corner - 
"Revolution, an almost mude male, bearing a drawn sword; Victory, 
a female, with a wreath in one hand and branches of palm and oak 
in the other; and lastly, Cincinnatus, seated on his plough, as a 
suggestive supplement. Between these emblamatic figures and that 



- kh - 

of Washington" - in niches cut into the main shaft - "are busts 
of four of his favorite generals, Lafayette, Lincoln, Knox and 
Green. All the figures are of bronze; the column itself is of 
marble." 

This work of Mr. Ball is distinguished from the works of 
other sculptors by the fact that although it is sixty feet tall 
and has figures of immense proportions, it is executed in its 
entirely with a careful regard for detail. 

The monoliths adorning the western tip of the Searles estate, 
across the street from the monument, were originally set up in 
1838 on Wall Street, New York, in front of the Bank of America. 
The pure bronze tripods surmounting these pillars are accurate 
Greek reproductions. The pillars are of Quincy granite and stand 
fifty feet high. 

On March 10, 1900, at the Methuen Town Meeting, Mr. Emerson 
offered the following resolution which was adopted unanimously 
by a rising vote: 

"Whereas our townsman Edward P. Searles has erected 
near the center of the village a monument of rare and 
majestic beauty, and whereas this monument both by its 
historical interest and artistic execution will give 
distinction to the town so long as marble and bronze 
endure, be it resolved by the citizens of Methuen that 
we express to Mr. Searles our great appreciation of the 
Washington monument by Thomas Ball, and a deep sense of 
gratitude for its noble and refining influence." 



k$ 



In 1899 Searles went to New York, as one of the newly 
elected board of directors of the Southern Pacific Railroad, 
replacing Thomas E. Stillman the New York lawyer who had arranged 
the Searles-Hopkins marriage agreement of 188?. Stillman had 
been a director representing, in conjunction with General Thomas 
H. Hubbard, the interests of B. P. Searles ever since the latter 
acquired possession of Southern Pacific stock through the death 
of his wife, formerly Mrs. Mark Hopkins. The following newspaper 
article from Searles 1 scrapbook explains what happened: 

"When B. P. Searles found himself a fourth-owner in 
the Southern Pacific Company he was without any experience 
in railroad matters and felt it necessary to secure the 
advice and services of gentlemen who were qualified and 
able to look after his railroad interests. General Hubbard 
and Mr. Stillman were law partners at that time, and he 
selected them for the responsible trust. A partnership 
arrangement was entered into, the Southern Pacific stock 
being apportioned among the three men, with the understanding 
that Searles was to be relieved of all work in connection 
with the railroad corporation's business. When Mr. Stillman 
decided to withdraw from the directorate, this partnership 
was dissolved." 

Searles kept a rather complete scrapbook of everything in the 
New York newspapers concerning the Southern Pacific Railroad. 
Although he was unwilling to devote his full attention to big 
business,, it is evident from the scrapbook that he was at least 
attempting to keep informed. 



- 1*6 



While riding about the countryside in Methuen and across 
the state line in Salem, New Hampshire, during the pleasant 
New England summer months, Searles often saw charming little farms, 
as has everyone who has ever ridden in the country. Likewise, 
those who take country drives regularly have become more particular 
as to just what type of farm meets their standards of "charming." 
Some insist upon a long, sloping-roofed farmhouse on top of a 
grassy knoll surrounded by old knarled oaks. Others hope to see 
an old pump on the well in front of the farmhouse with a mammoth 
red barn adjoining, and graceful hundred year-old elms in the 
pastures. It is simply a matter of choice. The most thoughtful 
country tourist looks at an "almost charming" bit of landscape and 
daydreams about what he would do to it to make it really "perfectly 
charming." Then the pretty spot passes out of sight and the dream 
is forgotten. Unlike most people, however, Searles enjoyed the 
uncommon pleasure of being wealthy enough to be able to buy outright 
any charming country farm he happened to notice and then make the 
changes that he thought needed to be made. If he really liked the 
landscape that he saw from his neat black carriage, and if the owner 
would sell, he could actually buy it and as many others as appealed 
to him. To the type of Yankee, land-loving man that Searles was, 
this ability to purchase, change, and enjoy was nothing short of 
the miraculous fulfillment of an incredible lifelong wish. 

He had, by this time, purchased all the land surrounding the 
western slope of the hill from which the Tenney castle looked down 
upon his mansion, and about two hundred acres on the other side of 
the hill. Thus, the Tenney estate formed a barrier across the top 
of the hill separating the eastern from the western halves of his 



- k7 - 

estate and he had to take one or the other of the public roads 
that ran on either side of the hill to get to his land on the 
other side of this hill. This was a great pity to Searles since 
he was striving to create an English-type country estate which 
is supposed to be independent of all public utilities, and he knew 
that Tenney would never sell any portion of his estate. Tenney 
never did sell and Searles habitually rode up East Street along 
the south side of the hill to reach his land which he called, 
"The Highfield." He gave it that name for the reason that it 
included the eastern half of the top of this hill and some of it 
was actually higher than Tenney 1 s land. He rode there frequently, 
to gain a panoramic view of the neighboring city of Lawrence. 

Highfield was a really charming stretch of farmland and 
woodland. It had high green pastures, productive apple orchards, 
and groves of majestic oak trees. Searles had winding roads laid 
out through the groves and dammed up a brook to form a miniature 
pond which still bears his name. He would drive out through the 
gateway at Pine Lodge, ride up East Street, enter Highfield and 
drive along the roads, through the woods and pastures, from one 
side of the hill to the other. Then he crossed the public street 
that runs along the other side of Tenney^ hill and drove along 
another private road, which he had made through other woodlands 
that he owned, and into another realm. 



- 1*8 - 
Chapter Five 
" STILLWATER AND STANTON HARCOURT " 



k9 



Chapter Five 
" STILLWATER AND STANTON HARCOURT " 

When Searles crossed that public street he entered, what to 
my mind, is the most interesting of all his real estate holdings. 
It was essentially the result of his attempt to acquire and plan 
such an extensive estate as those of the great landowners of the 
old world. Over a period of approximately six years he 
purchased, through his numerous agents, about six hundred acres 
of New Hampshire farm and woodland commencing at his property in 
Methuen and stretching northwards for three miles over the state 
line into Salem, New Hampshire, It included a shallow, lily- 
covered pond called "World's End", which alone covered over 
one hundred and fifty acres. The enlargement and development of 
this project was a chief interest during the remainder of his life. 

His interest in this, his most extensive project, was no doubt 
influenced while driving through the neighboring countryside. The 
possibility that the farmers, who owned the land he wanted, would 
sell seemed favorable and in 1895 he set his agents to work. As 
homestead after homestead was deeded to him the farmers caught on 
to his scheme and if an agent approached them, whom they suspected 
was working for Searles, they did not hesitate to put a fancy price 
on their land. For this reason he changed his agents quite 
frequently. Some farmers, however, refused to sell at any price, 
not only because their labor and their lives, actually, were in 
their fifty or sixty acres, but also because they resented the idea 



50 - 



of one man owning so much land. Over a period of six years, one 
resisting farmer, a Mr. Butler of Salem, was approached as many- 
different times by as many different agents. Mr. Butler was urged 
to sell by farmers to the north of him whose land Searles had 
promised to buy if only Butler would sell out. Mr. Butler refused 
to sell however and is living today, at the age of ninety- two, on 
the same land which stopped Searles' northward progress. 

After thus being compelled to limit his, let us say, private 
touring reserve to six hundred acres or so, Searles proceeded to 
build walls and gate houses around and in it. A group of immigrant 
Italian laborers, under the direction of Charles Mann, who was also 
one of Searles' real estate agents, built the walls at the rate of 
approximately a mile a year. These solidly constructed stone walls 
were seven feet high, four feet thick at the base, and a foot and 
a half thick at the crest. Mann's diary entry for June 11, 1896 
reads, "Searles and Edith (Edith Littlefield, Searles' cousin who 
served as house secretary to him at Pine Lodge), or Searles and 
Mr. Bell (Searles' business secretary) drop around to Stillwater 
every evening about five or six p.m. to see progress on roads and 
walls." 

The walls follow the country roads for three miles in Salem, 
New Hampshire, alone. Had he been able to purchase the few 
remaining tracts of land, which he hoped to obtain to complete his 
reserve before he lost interest in the project, he would have 
enclosed the entire area with the same imposing type of wall. 

Within the area which he was able to acquire he began a 
splendid transformation. The singing Italian laborers had already 



51 



cleared most of the farm and woodlands of rocks in order to 
build the walls. Not according to plan, but as the ideas for 
improvement came to him, he had gate houses built, remodeled 
some of the farmhouses into other gatehouses, laid out roads 
through the woodlands, built quaint, water-washed stone bridges 
over all the brooks and set out grove after grove of pine trees. 
Because many of the farms which he bought had the farmhouse on 
one side of a public road and the barn on the other, and since 
he wished to have an entirely private domain, it was necessary 
for him to buy the old road from the town and build a new one 
around it. In the course of the enlargement of his reserve it 
was necessary for him to do this several times. The town was 
always a willing member to these transactions because the new 
roads were always good roads and Searles was a very heavy taxpayer. 

Searles loved anything old; for that reason he seldom had 
any of the old farmhouses, which he had purchased, torn down. 
Rather, he remodeled them and moved them away from the road and 
farther into the reserve for privacy. At first the Italian 
laborers, who often numbered forty, lived in many of them but 
later the houses were taken over by the farmhands from Maine and 
Vermont whom Searles hired to work the farmland within the reserve. 
The only old house which he had demolished was one built in 1770 
and faced the site where he intended to build a country manor house, 

He had the farmhouses remodeled along the lines of the country 
houses he had seen in Europe, but more specifically, he searched 
through the pages of the collection of architectural books in his 



52 



library until he found the plans of the type that struck his 
fancy in Europe and the British Isles. He did not always adhere 
exactly to the plans, by any means, but rather added a gable 
here, an archway there or made any alteration whatever. He was 
a decorator not an architect. He did, however, know just what 
he wanted and if the results of his instructions, as to the 
construction of a house, did not look as he had hoped it would, 
it was torn down and rebuilt. 

His wealth enabled him to construct his buildings solidly 
of the best materials available. This was to the advantage of 
the artisans whom he employed, actually by the dozens. They were 
able to gain experience at working with good material and were 
allowed plenty of time to do a good job. Many of the men who 
were construction apprentices employed by Searles are master 
craftsmen today. 

"World? s End Pond", completely surrounded by his domain, 
became restricted to his private use, was renamed "Stillwater" 
by him and the work of beautifying its shores was begun. Much of 
the banking that followed the system of roads part way around the 
pond was reinforced with water-washed stone walls, and a half-dozen 
water-washed stone bridges were built over the pond's tributary 
brooks and the outlet brook. He raised the level of the mouth of 
the outlet in order to keep the pond at its maximum depth. But 
even so, the deepest part of the pond had only eight feet of water 
over a muddy bottom. Most of the pond was only about four feet 
deep. Farther along the pond's outlet brook, where it crosses a 



- 53 - 



main road, he built an elaborate bridge and dammed the brook 
higher in order to make it appear more sizable on his property. 
Beside the main tributary brook, which runs close by the manor 
house, he built a stone tower with barred windows, and an adjoining 
wall so constructed as to seem like one of the old ruined castles 
of Europe. He had miniature waterfalls constructed along this 
same brook and deepened and otherwise improved its entire course 
to its very sources in the marshes and swamps. How strange an 
experience it is for some one uninformed to stumble upon one of 
these quaint bridges in the midst of the wild woods. He feels as 
though he has been suddenly transported to a romantic scene in 
the old world. 

In "Stillwater", Searles 1 name for the whole estate, as well 
as the pond, he created a little self-sufficing village. He was 
the lord of the manor, so to speak, and the two dozen or so 
employees who lived in the smaller surrounding houses were his 
villagers. One such villager's house looks as though it was a 
medieval serf's dwelling transported, foundation and all, from 
the old world. 

The villagers need never have left Stillwater, for their daily 
requirements were all to be had within the Searles walls. As with 
all farms of that day, water was supplied from wells close to each 
building. Almost all the food needed to supply the members of the 
little village was raised right on the place. They slaughtered 
pigs and sheep in the fall and grew their own vegetables which 
the women canned for use during the winter. And they made sweet 
cider in the cider press at Dairy Court, where there was also a 



$k 



grist mill. All the fuel used for warmth was cut from woods in 
the area. Later, when Searles had a dynamo constructed to supply 
the manor house with electricity, the fuel for that was also wood 
cut on the property. It was cut into firewood with the use of 
an old fashioned boiler engine in the courtyard. The teamsters 
cut hay and did all the other regular farm labor in the summer 
and cut wood and ice in the winter. The ice was stored for summer 
use in a little ice house close to the pond and then brought by 
wagon to Pine Lodge during the summer. Every other day a wagon 
went from Dairy Court to Pine Lodge to carry down ice, farm 
produce, milk, and a jug of water from a spring, the water of 
which Searles was particularly fond. 

Thus, on coming down Pond Street into the little village, one 
entered a community independent of the outside world. And this is 
the exact dictionary definition of a country seat as it is known 
in England, for that is what Stillwater actually was, a country 
seat. It had an atmosphere all its own. Its rustic bridges, 
stone walls, stuccoed buildings, quaint gateways and English manor 
house transport one into a different world. The unique layout of 
the buildings and their English country village style of architecture 
give the place a charm to be found no where else. It is, even today, 
a cause of romantical wonder for those who chance to pass down 
shady Pond Street. 

The wife of Albert Lowe, the painting restorer for the Boston 
Museum of Fine Arts, recalls seeing Searles on several of his daily 
afternoon drives along the shaded roads at Stillwater. Mr. Lowe, 



5$ 



with his wife and daughter, lived in a little stone lodge at 
Stillwater over a period of seven years centering around the 
time of the First World War. He engaged the use of the lodge 
for the purpose of painting the exquisite landscape and to escape 
the clamor of industrial Lawrence. After receiving Mr. Lowe's 
correspondence in regards to the rental of the stone lodge, 
Searles, because he was in symphathy with Mr. Lowe's artistic 
leanings and desire to get away from the noisy city, gave his 
consent and later obliged Mr. Lowe by satisfying his request to 
show him the art accumulated at Pine Lodge. 

Mr. Houston, who lived near the stone lodge at the Oak Hill 
farmhouse, one of the twelve villagers' dwellings at Stillwater, 
and who was Searles' head foreman, told Mr. Lowe that Searles had 
a Japanese cook who had once lived at this lodge previous to Mr. 
Lowe's occupancy. Occasionally, when Searles was inspecting 
Stillwater, the cook would prepare his dinner for him there. Mr. 
Houston was in charge of the sheep at Stillwater, and his two 
young sons herded them. One of these boys, who is now a professor 
at Tufts College, often thought that the pond was originally named 
"World's End" because of the depth of the mud in it. Due to this 
mud it was always full of white water lillies. 

Searles bought a launch, built a boat house, and constructed 
water-washed stone piers at either side of the pond. The very 
first day they tried the launch, it became stuck in the mud and 
water lillies. The party shouted for an hour before they were able 
to summon someone down from the farmhouse for assistance. Charles 
Mann, Searles' construction foreman, made an entry in his diary 



S6 



shortly afterwards, in June, 1896 - "talk by Bell and Searles of 
dredging Stillwater, " And the surprised old pond was dredged. 

Another entry in the same month mentioned that the 
"foundation for lodge at Stillwater being built." And in the 
next month, Searles, "shows plans for lodge at Stillwater." When 
it was finished, its size and style made it actually more of a 
manor house than a simple lodge. It was called Dairy Court 
because his original intentions were that it should be a simple 
dairy farm. It has large, beam-ceilinged rooms with beautiful 
paneling, huge fireplaces, graceful stairways, and enough window 
space to allow an abundance of light to flood within. The sharply 
peaked slate roofs cover gabled rooms whose high windows look out 
upon the higher branches of the surrounding pines and the 
buildings around the courtyard below. 

Mr. Houston^ son, reflecting upon his days at Stillwater so 
many years ago, recollects that Searles was very particular about 
keeping the heavy wooden gates, at the entrance to Stillwater 
Manor grounds, closed at all times. He is positive that Searles 
was the most reclusive man he has ever known. To a stranger who 
chanced to drive down the shaded country road, by the walls, the 
closed gates must have been a wonderful reminder of the baronial 
estates of medieval days when such gates were closed for protection 
from marauding neighbor barons . 

Searles had an idea that farmers from Maine and Vermont made 
the best farm hands because they were literally born with practical 
farming experience and he hired them whenever he could. Before 1912 



57 - 



an approximate census of the inhabitants of Stillwater village 
would be as follows: twelve immigrant Italian laborers, the 
four McCloud boys and their sister Christine, a Scotch family 
from Nova Scotia, the five members of the Houston family, Mr, 
and Mrs. Akers who made the deliveries to Pine Lodge, Davis and 
Hurlbert, farmers from Vermont, and a man named Kelley. The farm 
help, exclusive of the Italians, ate at the gate house, where the 
McCloud boys' sister Christine, served them. The Italians served 
themselves at another house and farmers who lived near Stillwater 
recall selling eggs and other products to them. The attitude of 
the help towards Searles, was in general, good; he always gave 
presents to the Houston boys at Christmas time. 

The Oak Hill farm was one of the first that Searles bought 
near the pond which can be seen from the house. After remodeling 
the simple farmhouse into a charming country place with the usual 
Searlesian architectural touches, he made it his headquarters 
while the manor house was being built. It has an interesting 
enclosed courtyard, a tall wooden tower at one end of the house 
with rooms for the farmhands, and a large carriage house across 
the yard. Judge Cox, of Lawrence, spent four summers there as a 
gentleman- farmer before he bought, from Searles, his present farm 
nearby. 

The Judge recalls that while he was at Oak Hill Searles asked 
him if he could make use of the oxen that he had at another farm 
and for which he no longer had any use. Judge Cox said that he 
could and they were brought to Oak Hill. The oxen being hoisted 
up for shoeing in the ox sling in the barn';s courtyard presented 



58 



a picture that could have been taken right out of the middle ages, 

Searles admired Judge Cox's success at gentleman farming. 
While he had all kinds of equipment at Stillwater, the best of 
barns and more than enough men, he just couldn't get his lands to 
produce the way the Judge's did. It was obvious that he was more 
interested in having walls and towers built than in any income his 
farms could produce. 

At first all the buildings at Stillwater were painted red; 
Searles' favorite color. Then he decided that grey would be more 
in keeping with the landscape - so everything was re-painted grey. 
He had a romantic name, on a sign, for every building, pond, or 
grove that he owned. On a barn that stood on the site where he 
built the manor house there was a sign reading "Feracroft." Names 
like Crowmont, West Moorland, Dairy Court, Oak Hill, Appleside 
and Spring Brook Cottage were all products of his imagination. 
One architectural effect that seems to have been a favorite with 
Searles is the false pigeon-loft holes that appear in the gables 
of three of the buildings at Stillwater - the manor house, a little 
caretaker's cottage that is still painted red opposite the manor, 
and the gatehouse to West Moorland. But then again, they may owe 
their existence to Henry Vaughan, Searles' English architect, since 
this effect is common throughout England. 

West Moorland, which probably received its name from the fact 
that it stands on the edge of a moor in the western part of 
Stillwater, was occupied in later years by a Mrs. Fitzgerald and 
her family. She was one of Searles' favorite cooks and many a 
time when he tired of the food at Pine Lodge he made the long buggy 



59 - 



ride up to Salem just to sit at her table. The two, long, glass 
arched-roofed greenhouses, which were at West Moorland, set it 
apart from the other places at Stillwater. The manor house had 
a greenhouse but it was only half the size of the ones that were 
at West Moorland. They supplied fresh flowers for Pine Lodge 
the year-round. 

Northgate was the name Searles gave to the house and gate in 
the entrance to the northern corner of Stillwater »s six hundred 
acres. The gatehouse, which was built in 1776, was on the north 
side of the public road and the barn was on the south side until 
he bought the property and built a new road which he exchanged 
with the town for the old one, in order that he might have both 
buildings within his wall-enclosed area. He remodeled the house 
to suit his tastes as if he were going to live there, just as he 
did with every house that came into his possession. If the place 
had more rooms than he liked, he had the partitions torn down and 
made larger rooms. When he bought the land on the northern shore 
of the pond, adjacent to the Northgate property, he acquired the 
old Ayer house, the foundation of which previously held a structure 
used as a garrison against the Indians. He moved the house back 
away from the road but preserved the well that stood by the road 
by building his high wall out and around it. 

Two or three of the houses at Stillwater village were moved 
there from Methuen, across the state line. Searles would buy tracts 
of land including buildings and, desiring to use the space for a 
monument or another building, moved the old houses to other locations 
rather than tear them down. 



60 



Beside one of the charming miniature ponds, Searles created 
near his manor house, he erected a huge barn, the architecture 
of which could easily have been used on a mansion as on a dwelling 
for farm animals. There he kept the pony and little basket carriage 
his invalid mother had used at Pine Lodge years before. When he 
later recuperated at Stillwater, during a whole summer, after 
breaking his ankle while watching the construction of his castle 
in Windham, New Hampshire, he made good use of them to make 
inspection trips about the estate. He was lame for a year after 
that and noticeably restricted in the long walks which he had been 
accustomed to take. 

Searles had, perhaps, an art so subtle that it is hard to 
distinguish as an art. His taste for the most appropriate style 
of architecture for his mansions, and his selection of a location 
for them was his art; if such a procedure that necessitates the 
posession of vast wealth can be called art. He could select an 
ordinary stretch of farmland and so plan the roads, house location, 
walls and landscaping as to make it appear that it was always meant 
to look the way it did when he was finished with it. True to every 
artist's natural practice of completely disassociating himself with 
his art once he had finished with it, Searles completed one mansion 
after another and then left each one of them to go on to the next. 
Yet each is so perfect in its setting as to most assuredly excite 
the imagination of those who chance to find them. If any person 
is in the least affected by the charms of beauty and he passes down 
between the rows of trees on either side of Pond Street, by the moors 



61 



and mansion at Stillwater, he will most certainly be delighted 
at the awe for oharm he will feel when he sees the picture in 
reality that Searles painted. 

It is evident that no matter what Searles built, additions 
to his birthplace, Pine Lodge, or castle or mansion in New 
Hampshire, they only held his interest while they were being built. 
As each was finished, he seemed to want to forget about it and go 
on to the next. While there was construction activity at each 
place, and while the locality was still new to him, his interests 
and his spirits were high. It might be said that his building 
projects were all that made life bearable for him. He was a lonely 
man despite his wealth, and his daily inspections at each of his 
projects were his only defense against complete loneliness. By 
the time he had lost interest in Stillwater, in 1908, he was 
already deeply absorbed in another project that was vaguely 
connected with the mansion and its six hundred acres. There could 
be no doubt that they made a charming country seat. However, 
Stillwater wasn't quite what Searles wanted. Besides country 
mansions, he had seen other things while he was in Europe - 
specifically, castles atop high hills overlooking clear blue lakes 
far below. In 1902, even before the Stillwater estate was 
completed, he decided to build a castle and began buying land six 
miles farther north in Windham, New Hampshire. Just as the flat 
moorland at Stillwater was a perfect setting for a manor house, 
so was the site Searles selected in Windham a perfect setting for 
a castle. The thirty or forty pieces of farmland that he acquired 



62 - 



in Windham included the highest hill in the area and overlooked 
gently sloping meadowland and two beautiful blue lakes. 

Perhaps the real reason why Searles decided to build a castle 
was to correct what to him was a long standing unfortunate 
situation. His neighbor in Methuen, Charles Tenney, although not 
anywhere near as wealthy as he, lived in a castle on top of the 
hill that overlooked his own wooden mansion. Now he too would 
live on top of a hill, even if it meant moving out of state. 

In 1905, after he had secured about llj.00 acres of land, 
construction on the hilltop castle was begun. It was to be a 
one-quarter scale replica of the medieval Tudor castle called 
St an ton-Hare ourt, in Oxfordshire, England. Henry Vaughan, Searles 1 
English architect, designed the replica into twenty rooms including 
servants' quarters. The original castle in England was built in 
llj.5>0. Its Tudor-style architecture is characterized by a great 
semicircular bay window which runs the height of the building. It 
has a gatehouse erected in lf>ij.O, a vast kitchen and a "Pope's Tower." 
Searles' Stanton-Harcourt also has a very fine kitchen and a replica 
of this "Pope's Tower", so constructed as to be suitable for guests 1 
quarters. The Harcourt family, which came to England from Prance 
with William the Conqueror, still inhabits the old castle. 

Searles' replica in Windham is a striking structure with 
battlemented towers jutting high into the sky above the hilltop. 
A caretaker once described it as "a pile of stones on top of the 
hill." Actually it is a combination of carefully cut granite, 
fieldstones, and dark red sandstone fitted into the architect's 
intricate design. Searles' love for good workmanship is manifest 



- 63 - 

in the richly carved oak paneling, hand-hewn timbered ceilings, 
and grand fireplaces throughout the castle. It has walls eight 
feet thick, mullioned windows, great arched gateways, spacious 
rooms and a perfectly carved oak staircase. This staircase, a 
masterpiece in woodcarving craftsmanship, leads to the chambers 
above, and to a large stateroom on the third floor of the castle. 
The Gothic-style doors of the castle's main hall were removed 
from the Great Barrington mansion. They originally came from 
Windsor Castle in England where Searles had discovered them in 
the shop of a dealer in antiquities. The living room has a 
marble fireplace which reputedly came from Napoleon's favorite 
room in the Tuileries grand palace, Paris. The Searles coat of 
arms is richly carved into the oak paneling above this fireplace. 

Every day Searles would drive the ten miles from Methuen, 
Massachusetts, to Windham, New Hampshire, to watch the construction 
of his castle. He would have his cook prepare a pot of baked beans 
to take along. When he remained in Windham overnight, he stayed 
at the old Morrison house near the site of the castle. He acquired 
this property, however, only after Stanton-Harcourt was well on 
its way towards completion. He could not acquire the homestead 
until the last of the Morrisons died; then he purchased the 
property, and, as a last step in making the entire district 
completely his own, bought from the town of Windham, a schoolhouse 
which was, at the time, completely surrounded by his land. 
Accordingly, on November 6, 1906, th© town of Windham voted to 
discontinue the roads which ran through the Searles estate and to 
accept the new ones he had built. This was, "to take effect at 



64 



such a time as Edward F. Searles shall convey to the school 
district of the town of Windham a schoolhouse and a lot of land 
acceptable to the committee." to replace the old schoolhouse 
within the limits of his property. Needless to say, the new 
schoolhouse greatly surpassed the old one in proportions and 
elegance of architectural design. 

One day Searles was up on the roof over the semi-circular 
bay window of the castle with one of the workmen. He said, 
"What do you think of that, Jack?]'' Referring to the panoramic 
view from that vantage point. 

Jack May answered, "Beautiful, just beautiful.'" 
Then, referring to a new, graceful, triple-arched bridge over a 
stream in the meadow at the foot of the hill. Searles asked, 
"Well, what do you think I should call it?" 

Young Jack May pondered for a moment and then suggested, 
"The Bridge of Sighs." 

"Well, why that?" asked Searles. 
Jack replied, "Because I don't own it J" 

When the castle was finished, in 1915, Searles celebrated 
the occasion at Pine Lodge by inviting about a dozen guests. 
Among them were Mr. Charles Tenney, Henry Vaughan, and Henry 
Cabot Lodge, Sr. The Lodge family, including the present 
Henry Cabot Lodge, later spent a week vacationing at the castle. 



- 65 - 



Chapter Six 



" MADE TO ORDER " 



- 66 - 



Chapter Six 



M MADE TO ORDER " 

Searles had been showering gifts upon the town of Methuen 
partly out of benevolence - but also to achieve something that 
was obscure to the public yet important to him. And though the 
townspeople did not know that these gifts had been made until 
after they had already been accepted by higher town officials, 
they were grateful and showed appreciation. Actually, Searles 1 
money had bent the townspeople to his will. Slowly but surely 
he was establishing himself as the chief benefactor of the town 
and at the same time accomplishing many little changes that he 
could not otherwise have made without the public's consent. Each 
building he erected for the town was exactly to his liking in 
style and location. Some, like the high school, were built so 
the more beautiful Tudor-style facade would face his own estate, 
close by and present a grand appearance chiefly for his own benefit. 
At the same time, the townspeople, aware of the fact that he was 
saving thousands of dollars for them through his gifts, were 
becoming more and more obliged to him even though they would have 
no say as to where or how the various buildings would be built. 
He made them for the town but they were made to his order. In fact, 
he gradually made over a large part of the town to his own liking 
and met with very little opposition. In the face of his gifts it 
was hard for the town to object to anything that he chose to 



- 67 - 

undertake. The very magnitude of these gifts made any show of 
non-compliance to his wishes seem indecent. The townspeople tred 
lightly around him and his feelings because it paid to, and he 
paid, quite generously. 

The Emmanuel Primative Methodist Church (1901) in Methuen was 
the first of five churches that Searles erected as a gift to a 
church group and it also was the smallest, being a single-story 
wooden structure finished in stucco and brown trim. In his deed 
to the church group, for the land on which the building was 
erected, he made the restriction that no intoxicating liquors 
were ever to be sold on the premises. If the property was ever 
used for anything other than religious purposes it was to revert 
back to him or his heirs. He made the same provisions in his deed 
for the St. George's Primative Methodist Church, the second that he 
built in Methuen. Also, and this is most important, if the town 
of Methuen should ever be annexed to any other municipality, the 
property would be forfeited to him. The City of Lawrence had been 
trying for some time to annex little Methuen, causing Searles much 
anxiety. This clause in the church deed was no doubt a strong 
force in influencing the parishioners to help him to keep the town 
rural and independent from Lawrence. Certainly his money was the 
power that enabled him to make the town to order. 

St. George's Primative Methodist Church (190i|.) is a small brick 
Romanesque structure with a domed tower at the left of the facade. 
It is the largest and probably the most costly of the five churches. 
The most interesting feature of this church is the large, richly 



- 68 - 

stained organ which occupies a prominent position. It could 
very well be that Searles built the church as high-vaulted and 
simple, as its interior decorations are, so as not to detract 
from the beautiful organ - for this was a special organ and 
required a special setting. For many years he had used it as 
his exhibition organ set up in the organ testing hall of his 
factory. 

The All Saints Episcopal Church (190ij.) on Broadway, Methuen, 
is typical of the small parish church one would expect to see in 
a small English rural town. Its stucco and brown exterior trim 
in simple geometrical design is more pleasing than it is elaborate. 
Although this church is smaller than the St, George's Primative 
Methodist Church, which Searles also built in the same year, the 
delicate lacery of its interior woodwork is more beautiful. This 
church was also furnished with an organ from the Searles organ 
factory. 

When Searles acquired the public road that ran through his 
Windham estate, together with the public school on that road, he 
was obliged to build a new road and school nearby. The school that 
he subsequently built occupied one half of the building, the other 
half of which he directed be used as a chapel unrestricted to any 
denomination. As usual, the building's exterior was finished in 
stucco and brown trim, but, unlike the others, it and its setting 
have a different sort of charm reminiscent of a lonely mansion in 
a bleak rural province such as Normandy, 

The North Salem Church (1911), in New Hampshire, is the fifth 
and second smallest church that Searles built. When the original 



- 69 



church burnt down in 1909 Searles offered to match, dollar for 
dollar, whatever the parishioners could raise provided that he 
could supervise the erection of the new building. In the end 
he had to do a good deal more than match each of the parishioners 
dollars. 

In March of 1896 the members of the Methuen Town Meeting 
chose a committee of three persons to select the most appropriate 
site for a new high school building. At the next meeting, in 
1897, the committee reported that they found the site immediately 
adjoining the old high school building to be the most suitable 
and advised that it be purchased, which was done. This land was 
directly across the street from the site where Searles was planning 
to erect his Washington monument, and it was obvious to him that 
if a high school building went up there it would be too close to 
allow the monument the space it needed. He wanted nothing to 
detract from the beauty of this monument. He finally erected the 
monument much farther away from the street than he originally 
planned. He immediately decided that the only way to solve the 
problem was to prevent the high school from being built on that 
site and he set the power of his wealth to work to achieve this end, 

As soon as Searles learned what site the committee had chosen, 
and bought in 1897* he began to buy land some distance away on top 
of a slope opposite Tenney's castle, but sufficiently distant from 
the Washington monument site. The following excerpt from the 
March, 1898, Methuen Town Meeting ledger explains itself: 
"Report of Committee on High School Building - 



70 - 



The Committee appointed and extended at the last town 
meeting to consider the subject of a new high school 
building beg leave to report progress and ask for 
more time, 

"The progress which they are able to report is that 
our honored townsman, Mr. Searles, has authorized them 
to say that he is going to commence the erection of a 
high school building for the town of Methuen, upon his 
own property immediately." 

At the Town Meeting in March 1900 the members attempted to partly 

repay Searles for his yet unfinished high school by voting - 
"to furnish such police protection as Mr. Searles 
shall call for at any time and also place an extra 
officer on night duty." 

On June 22, 1901, at Town Meeting, the town's obligation to him 

was even more clearly set forth: 

"Hon. James 0. Parker offered the following 
resolutions which were unanimously adopted by a rising 
vote and it was voted that a copy be engrossed and sent 
to Mr. Searles.... 

"Whereas our fellow citizen and townsman, Edward F. 
Searles, in his generosity has seen fit to make a 
donation of $15,000. to the town of Methuen for the 
purpose of aiding in the construction of a system of 
sewers now in progress, therefore be it, 

"Resolved, that the legal voters of Methuen Town 
Meeting assembled, accept this munificent gift in the 



71 - 



spirit in which it were made, as a free will offering 
for the benefit of all the citizens of the town, 

"Resolved, that we are under obligations to the 
same generous and public- spirited citizen for numerous 
and expensive public improvements, all of which show 
his love for the town of Methuen. 

"Resolved, that we extend to the donor, Mr. Edward 
F. Searles, in behalf of the town, a vote of thanks, 
which we are confident will express the sentiments of 
every citizen of the town." 

About 1902, during the building of the high school, Searles 
employed the Irving & Casson decorating company of Boston to 
execute a quantity of wood carvings for his estate and the high 
school building. Mr. John Kirchmayer, the most noted woodoarver 
in Gothic style of his day, was in charge of the work and was 
assisted by Mr. H. C. Hughes. Mr. Kirchmayer came from 
Oberammergau, Germany, where he also studied sculpture. Mr. Hughes 
studied under Kirchmayer at the Irving & Gas son woodworking shop 
in Cambridge. He is still a member of that firm and recalls 
occasions when Searles came to the shop to see how some work they 
were doing for him was progressing. Searles chose that firm to 
decorate his buildings because of his friendship with Mr. Casson, 
whom he met, presumably, when he himself was a decorator in Boston 
with Paul & Company. 

Mr. Hughes recalls the : many days which he spent at the high 
school building working on the capitals of the study-hall ceiling 



- 72 - 



and on the tympanums and Gothic style screen for the organ in 
the music room at Pine Lodge. Besides doing the work at Pine 
Lodge, Mr, Casson T s men did all the interior decorating work 
in the five churches that Searles had built. 

On May 6, 190lj- he deeded the completed high school to the 
town. The most prominent feature of the ornate Tudor style 
building is a large oak-paneled study hall with a semi-circular 
bay window at one end. The high peaked ceiling is supported by 
heavy, carved oak ribs which meet the walls twenty feet from the 
floor. Light streaking through high windows at either end of the 
hall lends a cathedral effect. In fact, the hall was at first 
used as a chapel by the students. It is truly a beautiful 
building, equal to any found even at the largest universities. 
The arched passageways on the lower floors of the building reveal 
masonry as strong and enduring as that of any Tudor castle in 
England. Compared to Tenney f s castle close by, the high school 
is by far the more beautiful and imposing structure. In fact the 
completion of the high school building automatically transferred 
first place in architectural beauty in town from the Tenney castle 
to the new building. 

Regardless of the personal reasons that might have activated 
Searles into building the high school, and later a grammar school, 
and though his great wealth made it comparatively easy for him t© 
do so, the members of the town meeting at once compared him to 
John Harvard. Although what one man wrote and what the whole town 
thought are two different things, the former is at least significant 
in revealing that one man believed wholeheartedly in the integrity 



73 



of practicing gratitude - 

"November 9, 1905 - Special Town Meeting - 
"Mr. Hartshorne, chairman of the school committee, 
offered the following resolutions which were 
unanimously adopted: 

"Whereas, in the colonial days of 1636 by a 
•vote of four hundred pounds to found a college 1 , 
Massachusetts was the first commonwealth in history 
to appropriate public funds for educational purposes, 
which grant was two years later augmented by half the 
fortune of John Harvard, thus founding Harvard 
University, and 

"whereas, during the more than two and a half 
intervening centuries not only has that institution 
flourished and grown great, but public education itself 
has ever been regarded as the bulwark of the state, and 
high-minded, public-spirited, well-endowed citizens 
have ever and anon come forward with their wealth to 
develop and expand the opportunity demanded by the state, 
of each community for the education of its youth. So now 
our town of Methuen has in these latter days been greatly 
honored by a wealthy son, not only by the gift of a 
magnificent home for our high school, but by the love and 
care which the further possibilities of this building 
imply. If a thing of beauty be a joy forever, then great 
should be our joy and his, for not only is this building 
beautiful, but it is built to endure the ravages of time. 



- 7k - 

"Now therefore be it resolved by the citizens 
of Methuen in town meeting assembled that to Bdward 
P. Searles, the donor, there is now, and ever shall 
be, due a debt of appreciation and gratitude not to 
be expressed in words, and that we commend to our 
children and our children's children, in the use of 
such riches as God and their own efforts may endow 
them with, a like spirit of disposal. 

"Be it further provided that this resolution be 
spread upon the records of the town and that the 
school committee be, and is hereby instructed to 
prepare and present to Mr. Searles an appropriately 
engrossed copy thereof duly attested by the town 
clerk, selectmen, and school committee." 

Mr. Hartshorne's resolutions mention the high school as if 
it were an outright gift. Actually Searles leased the building 
to the town for twenty-five years. The deed explains that he 
does not give the title to the land and buildings outright to the 
town because he wished to make further improvements upon it. At 
this time,. in 1905>, the interior was not completely finished. 

At the same meeting, Mr. Hartshorne read another resolution 
tending gratitude to Searles for his gift of the Central Grammar 
School which was also finished at that time. It was also voted: 
"by a unanimous vote, that the selectmen be 
authorized to transfer by deed to Mr. Edward P. Searles 
the real estate belonging to the town adjacent to the 
new Central Grammar School building, and that the 



- 75 



selectmen be authorized to sign said deed in behalf 
of the town," 

That deed gave Searles the lot of land directly across the 
street from the site where his Washington monument stands. He 
immediately had it walled up and thus created the surrounding 
landscape much less distracting from the monument than it would 
have been if the town had built its new high school there. 

On Saturday evenings, between 1900 and 1906, Searles often 
walked up to see his aunt Liddie Sterns whom he had persuaded to 
move to Methuen after her husband died several years previously. 
She lived at High Lodge, a beautiful Georgian mansion on the 
public road near Searles 1 Highfield property. What really brought 
Searles up to see his aunt was the Saturday night supper of fish 
cakes, baked beans and brown bread. He always joked that he 
couldn't get anything he liked to eat at Pine Lodge and often 
discussed how hard it was to get anything good to eat anywhere. 
He protested that the days of good old-fashioned cooking were gone 
forever. Whenever he went to High Lodge for his old-fashioned 
supper he always took his soda mints along with him. Once, when 
Searles was left without a cook, Mrs. Sterns sent her own cook to 
work for him. On the note which she gave her cook, to introduce 
her to Searles, she pasted the following printed poem: 

"We may live without poetry, music, and art; 
We may live without conscience and live without heart; 
We may live without friends, we may live without books; 
But civilized man cannot live without cooks." 



76 - 



Whenever Searles visited his aunt on Saturday night he 
usually dressed as he pleased, that is, not formal. He wore, 
as a rule, a shepard plaid coat of black and white check, dress 
trousers with an obscure stripe, a vest that didn't match either, 
and a bow tie. Sometimes he wore a vest that went with his coat, 
and a four-in-hand tie, but he usually wore the same clothes with 
a tie in some shade of red to match his favorite brown vest. He 
was habitually polishing his pince-nez glasses seemingly in an 
attempt to keep them as shiny as his immaculately polished tan 
shoes. A ring with a very large sapphire completed his attire. 

He was careful about his appearance, never leaving the house 
without a clean shave, which partly accounted for his very ruddy 
complexion. He had blue eyes, a nose just a little too small, a 
prominent forehead and a rather full lower lip. His voice was low 
pitched. Although his cropped military-style moustache was turning 
grey, his hair, except for the mutton-chops in front of his ears, 
still had the reddish-gold tinge that was much more marked in 
former years. In short, he was a singularly handsome and well- 
preserved man of medium height and build with broad shoulders and 
well moulded facial features. He walked erect and very fast, 
looked young for his age, and never had a stoop* 

Prom talks with him after supper on those frequent Saturday 
night visits, his aunt's niece's husband, Judge Cox, recalls that 
his chief topic of conversation was food and its current prices as 
compared with those during his youth. On the other hand Searles 
could be very interesting. When Judge Cox visited him at Pine Lodge 
one evening, he spent a good part of the time showing the Judge 



- 77 



through the mansion and pointing out different objects or 
paintings in his vast collection of art, with a detailed 
explanation of just where and how he had obtained each. It 
was amazing how he could remember the very incident when he 
had purchased each item in his collection. If one particular 
object reminded him of a rather interesting town in Europe, 
where he had bought it, nothing would do but for him to recount 
for the Judge how he happened to be traveling there and simply 
everything of interest that he could remember about the place. 

It pleased him to reminisce, thus, of his European travels, 
and for that matter, to reminisce about anything. One evening 
in early summer as Judge Cox was leaving Pine Lodge, with Searles 
accompanying him to the gate, Searles pointed out each of the 
trees along the walk and on the grounds and told how he had them 
planted twenty-five years before. He then spoke of the pity that 
more people didn't plant trees. He cited the fact that most 
people think it takes a lifetime for a tree to grow, and yet here 
were the beautiful trees that he had planted only twenty-five 
years before] 

Searles often told friends of his that his reason, or at 
least one of his reasons, for building churches was that they 
kept the boys in Sunday School on one of the two days of the week 
when they might otherwise be climbing over his walls. It is not 
certain whether this is truth or legend but it is certain that 
his chief reason for complying with someone's request to build a 
church, home for the aged, boy's club, or anything for that matter, 



- 78 - 

was that it gave him a chance to supervise the building and 
decorating work. The truth of this is augmented by the fact 
that he never gave money outright for something to be built. 
He always made the provision that he be allowed to supervise 
the work himself. 

During 1908-1909 he deeded the railroad station, he began 
to build in 1905, to the Boston & Maine Railroad, built the 
Berkely Street home for the aged in Lawrence, and paid off a 
$66,000, debt due from the town of Methuen, In 1911 he added 
a chapel to the Berkely Street home for the aged in memory of 
his aunt Liddie Sterns, In 1913 he built, for the town of 
Methuen, a concrete bridge over the Spicket Rivei* adjacent to 
his organ factory on Broadway, And at the same town meeting 
that the gift of the bridge was announced, it was also voted: 
"to close East Street from the junction of 

Lawrence Street and Washington Place - to the 

junction of the new street built by Edward F. Searles." 
"Voted: to accept the new street running 

from Lawrence Street to East Street as laid out by 

the selectmen, " 
He had finally achieved what he had always wanted - he bought, 
or rather swapped, for the public street that ran in front of 
his mansion, another street that he had built skirting his estate, 
He walled up the old street and never again had to use the quaint 
stucco and brown trim overpass which he had formerly used to get 
to his stables behind the wall on the other side of East Street, 
without once walking on public ground. 



- 79 - 

After his uncle, Artemas Stems, the Lawrence department 
store magnate, died he moved his aunt out of the smoky mill 
city to Methuen where he was sure she would be more oomfortable. 
He detested the factories in that city and did all in his power 
to erradioate the mills in his own town, Methuen. His organ 
factory in Methuen hardly looked like a factory, and made no 
noise. He had replaced the woolen mill, which had formerly 
occupied the building, with something far more respectable. It 
was evident that Searles had a vague plan to keep Methuen a rural 
town. Towards this end he attempted to buy up all the river front 
property in town in order to prevent manufacturers from building 
any more factories than were already standing. He not only 
attempted to buy but actually did finally buy all the river front 
property from the already established mill in the center of Methuen 
to the Arlington Mills on the border of Lawrence; all this with 
the exception of a large stretch on the left bank on which his 
good friend, Mrs. Henry Nevins, had erected a home for the aged in 
memory of her late husband* Thus, all the river front property 
that could have possibly been used by manufacturers was either 
owned by Searles or otherwise unavailable for a factory site. 
Out of one such parcel of river front land across the street from 
his mansion on Lawrence Street he created a small pond with 
graceful white swans, small dock, and boats. A house on another 
parcel became the rectory for a church he had built nearby. Thus, 
the land that manufacturers might some day have bought was diverted 
to other ends. It is rather ironical that Searles successfully 
used money that machine industry, in the form of railroads, had 



- 80 



made to stop progress of machine industry in Methuen. 

There is another bit of irony attached to Searles ' last 
purchase of river front property in 1903. It will be remembered 
that the Tenney brothers were doing a fine business in shoe and 
hat manufacturing in Methuen about i860 when Searles, despairing 
of all factories, went to Boston to seek better employment. 
In 1903 Searles bought from J. M. Tenney, one of the four brothers, 
the same land and factory which had made them wealthy enough to b© 
greatly envied by the young Searles. The site was never occupied 
by a factory again until after Searles 1 death. 

At the turn of the century the second largest building in 
the main square of the town of Methuen was a rather shabby looking 
three- story wooden structure called The Exchange Hotel. It held 
the most prominent position on the square and was, particularly to 
Searles, an eyesore. In l897# when it came up for sale, Searles 
welcomed the chance to buy it and have it converted into something 
more to his liking. He had no particular use for the building 
but simply bought it and the adjoining livery stables for the same 
reason he had bought many other buildings in town - to make them 
look as he would have them look. In short order his architect and 
builders converted the simple wooden building into a charming 
stucco and white trim town house with two halls and towers and 
unusual architectural features such as French windows and a 
collonaded porch. It remained empty until a group from the Young 
Men's Christian Association suggested that he might outfit the 
building for them. This he did, but when interest seemed to fall 



81 



off lie decided to close the building and let it remain empty 
until a new use could be found. Thus it remained until 191f> 
when his friend John Ingraham, a Mason, told his fellow Masons, 
at a meeting, that he had been authorized by Searles to present 
to the Masonic Lodge the property and building then known as 
"the Y.M.C.A.", without any conditions attached, for Masonic 
purposes. It was to be given in memory of Searles 1 father, 
Jessie Gould Searles, who was a Mason. 

John Ingraham began working for Searles about 1892 and in 
1906 was given full charge of all affairs of the Methuen Organ 
Company. In 1910, the Masonic Temple of Methuen, of which 
Ingraham was a member, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. 
Through Ingraham' s influence, the out-of-town visiting Masons 
were entertained at the Serlo Organ Hall, and elsewhere about 
the Searles estate. In October of 1916, when the Masonic Temple 
was formally dedicated, Searles assisted in the reception of the 
guests in the afternoon, and became the honored guest of the 
Grand Master in the evening. 

The livery stables, adjacent to the old hotel, were removed 
and replaced by a picturesque building by the moving of several old 
houses to the site and remodeling them into a new structure. When 
it was finished, in 1900, it was a three and a half story stucco 
and brown trim affair with the upper portions done in red shingles. 
Its deep eaves and small balconies make the building seem much 
larger than it actually is. The interior woodwork, as with many 
of Searles' buildings, is beautifully worked cypress paneling. 
Beamed ceilings and a sturdy, wide, staircase lend strength and 
warmth of color simultaneously. The main feature of the building 



82 



was a paneled coffee room and tap room; each with an enormous 
carved-stone fireplace and heavy beams in the high ceilings. 

Searles erected this building, perhaps, because he felt 
obliged to replace the hotel, which he had remodeled, by another 
one - smaller, yet more elaborate. Even so, it was quite adequate 
for the small number of travelers who stopped in Methuen. He 
called it, romantically enough, The Red Tavern, 

Searles was truly a fortunate man in acquiring great wealth, 
but being so wealthy he often found himself excluded from the 
circle of the average man of the town. While he was watching his 
carpenters remodeling the building he had bought directly across 
the street from the Masonic Temple, in the main square of the 
town, a man came in to get some of the workmen to sign his 
nomination papers for his election to a town office. He went to 
almost every man in the building but did not approach Searles for 
fear that Searles would think that he was asking for free support. 
Whatever the cause was, Searles was deeply hurt and remarked, so, 
to Charlie Dudley, his chauffeur. 

Incidently, when this building was finished with the usual 
stucco and, this time, cream-color trim and row of columns across 
the front, it too remained vacant for several years until a use 
could be found for it. In 1909, when the town officials had to 
evict, for need of space, the First National Bank from the rooms 
in the town hall which they had been renting, they arranged with 
Searles to lease his newly remodeled building and have been there 
ever since. John A. Perkins, a Methuen banker, was one of Searles' 



83 



best friends and often came to Pine Lodge to visit. He always 
brought hi3 jew»s-harp and stayed all evening. Then they went 
into the dining room where a box was kept well supplied with 
cookies and pie. They had their pie and then Mr. Perkins went 
home. 

The fourth and last building which Searles remodeled in the 
town^ main square was supposed to be a grocery store in which 
he was setting up a friend in business. When it was finished, 
with its six wooden Greek Revival columns in front, it was 
probably the most unique grocery store in New England. The 
changes made on this building, together with those made on the 
three other prominent buildings in the very center of town, made 
the power of Searles' wealth felt above and beyond the changes 
he had made already - namely, his miles of wall, rambling mansion, 
and monopoly of the lands that had once comprised about a dozen 
farms. He was making the town to order, and to his own order 
at that. Pew yet realized the great influence which he extended 
upon the town. 

Edwin Castle who ran the drugstore, and later the grocery 
across the street from the Masonic Temple, was also Searles 1 
business manager on the town newspaper - Searles 1 Methuen Transcript, 
He was Searles 1 mouthpiece at town meetings and often acted as 
real estate agent for him. 

Mark Hopkins would have been amazed to know that the millions 
he had amassed building railroads was to be the power factor in 
the physical transformation of a little New England town. Bach 



- Qk 



passenger who paid his fare as he boarded one of Mark Hopkins' 
trains in California was actually giving his bit so that 
Methuen might one day look like an English village. Besides 
remodeling many buildings he had other, unsightly, buildings 
demolished in order to beautify the surroundings. All these 
small real estate purchases added together comprised a large 
fraction of the town's land owned by one man. Even as early 
as 1891 Searles was by far the heaviest taxpayer in town, 
excepting, of course, the mills. 



- 85 - 



Chapter Seven 



" APPLESIDE " 



86 - 



Chapter Seven 



" APPLESIDE M 

The townspeople, by 1918, were beginning to think of Searles 
as an aged eccentric hiding in an ancient fortress, A generation 
had grown old and another had come into maturity since he first 
began to alter the architecture of his parents 1 little farmhouse. 
And the new generation, knowing nothing whatever about the man's 
life and the origin of his wealth and mansions, accepted him as 
part of a mystical legend and gave ready ear to the ridiculous 
and jealous adornments to the legend concocted by the older 
inhabitants of the town. Some of these older people had even 
gone to school with Searles and they were obviously jealous of his 
wealth and the prestige that it had enabled him to acquire. 
However, there can be no doubt that they were partly justified in 
calling him eccentric, if that means he was different; did things 
differently, and lived on a different looking estate. It was 
perfectly natural - with his wealth he could afford to have 
everything different. Fellow townsmen were jealous and the farmers, 
especially, ridiculed him. His once simple farm was, after all, a 
strange sight for a farming town - with its swans and ponds, marble 
lions and acres of lawns, a Greek Revival windmill framed between 
Doric columns in the hayfield, statues atop the halls, bridges and 
ten-foot walls. 

His rambling, seventy-four room mansion with its fantasy of 



- 87 



gables, porticoes, and wings, still stood behind the high street 
wall but he hardly ever entered it now, prefering to live in the 
more modern wing, farthest away from the street, which he built 
at the turn of the century. It was farther up on the hill than 
the rest of the mansion and, probably, because it was closer to 
the apple orchard, he called it Appleside. The dust in the dozens 
of rooms in the three stories of old Pine Lodge slowly settled 
down upon the antique furniture and bric-a-brac just as age was 
slowly settling down upon Searles himself. He realized that it 
was no longer a perfect work of art, but, because he had spent so 
much thought and time on it he was reluctant to tear down the 
curiosity full of curiosities. It wa3 a diversion which first 
preoccupied and, now, wearied him. Age alone was probably the 
chief reason why he wearied of many things. 

With age came loneliness and even the frequent change of 
surroundings he effected by going to New York periodically became 
of little use to enliven his spirits. In 19Uf.» when he was 
seventy- three, he was in the habit of busying himself as best he 
could around Methuen for several months by visiting his different 
property holdings, and then he would go to New York for a week or 
two. He had an office at 71 Broadway, in the firm of Thomas Hubbard 
who managed the Searles millions. After a few hours at the office 
he would go to his hotel, the Biltmore, and begin to wonder what 
was going on in Methuen right about that time. It was obvious, 
even to the elevator operator at the Biltmore, that Searles was a 
very lonely man. His name was Angelo M. Ellison, and he remembers 
to this day that the white-moust ached old gentleman never tipped as 



- 88 - 



did some of his other passengers. The lad, Angy as he was called, 
was somewhat lonely himself. He had just recently arrived from 
Greece and although it was easy to adopt a name more easy to 
pronounce than his real one, it was not so easy to master the 
English language. This difficulty, together with the necessity 
of earning a living, made it very hard for him to associate with 
boys his own age. 

Usually Searles greeted the elevator boy with a polite "good 
morning" or "good evening" each time he entered the elevator. 
Gradually, however, he began to take a kindly interest in the 
seventeen year-old boy's home country, his parents, and his 
difficulties in mastering a new language. Shortly, in Angy's own 
words, "He started to tell me a few things about himself ", and 
asked Angy if he would like to work as his personal companion. 
Naturally, tired of traveling up and down the Biltmore Hotel all 
day, every day, Angy accepted the new job at once. In the months 
that followed, each time Searles came to New York, he and Angy 
would go for long walks along Fifth Avenue and occasionally go to 
the Metropolitan Opera House. When Searles went on inspection 
trips of his holdings, such as the Pittsburgh & Shawmut Railroad 
coal pits, he wa3 always accompanied by Angy. In Philadelphia 
they stopped to visit Searles' aunts, the Smith sisters. And back 
in New York on Sundays they usually went to the Cathedral of Saint 
John the Divine, the organ of which Searles was quite fond. By 
this time Searles' legal address was at The Murray Hill Hotel - 
rooms 61j.6 and 6l|7; his legal residence as a citizen of the State of 
New York. He had made New York his legal address to protest the 



89 



heavy taxes imposed upon him in Massachusetts. 

In 1915 Searles took Angy to Methuen to accompany him on his 
long rides there and in New Hampshire, While Stanton-Harcourt 
was acquiring the finishing touches to it3 interior decoration 
Angy lived at Morrison Lodge nearby and Searles lived in Methuen. 

There follows two letters from Searles to Angy written 
during the next summer: 

"Pine Lodge Methuen, Mass. July 22, 1916 

My Dear Ellison, 

Your little note received; glad to hear from you 
and that you were well this very hot weather. I have 
not been able to find a cook for the castle, although 
I have answered several advertisements. I was in 
Boston yesterday trying to find someone but did not 
succeed. I think I shall be obliged to try for a 
Japanese. 

I hope we shall be able to find someone soon as 
I am anxious to have you back again. 

Yours truly, 

E.P.S. * 



90 



"Pine Lodge Methuen, Mass. July 2^, 1916 

As soon as I hear from the cook, at what time he 
will arrive, I will send you word so you can come on 
at once, which I hope will be the last of this week. 

I got your clothes from the tailor and have 
taken them to Windham. 

Hoping we shall soon be able to get settled at 
the castle, I remain, 

Very truly yours, 

E.F.S. " 

They did finally get settled at the castle and Angy spent 
various weeks there throughout the summer, besides living there 
all through that winter. Try to imagine what living in a castle 
must have felt like to a poor boy who had had to operate an 
elevator all day for a living. He lived there also during part 
of the summer of 1917, up to the time when he enlisted in the 
Army. Even then, Searles used his influence to have him transferred 
to a station in Jersey City, New Jersey, so that Angy could live 
almost as well as a civilian, going to and from The Murray Hill 
Hotel in New York City whenever he choose. Even so, Searles saw 
less of him than before, and his letters became noticeably more 
personal : 

"Pine Lodge Methuen, Mass. Sept. 29, 1917 

My dear Ange, 

Just a line to let you know that I received your 



- 91 



two letters this morning and hasten to tell you how 
glad I was to hear from you. 

If you go to New York today I am sorry that I 
cannot be there. I was obliged to come to Methuen 
to attend to many things, but I will be in New York 
next Saturday and Sunday. 

If you can get away I will be waiting for you 
at the Murray Hill. 

I hope you will soon get your uniform as I am 
afraid you will be cold in your thin clothes. 

If you get hungry buy something outside, if you 
can get it, and don't mind spending the money for you 
can have some more. 

If you don't come to New York next Saturday I 
shall go out to Allentown to see you on Monday or 
Tuesday following. 

Do the best you can to take care of yourself 
and be a good soldier and believe me, as ever, 

Faithfully yours, 

Dad " 

Besides signing off as "Dad", the letters which followed 
reveal how close the youth was to Searles' heart. 

"Pine Lodge Methuen, Mass. Oct. Ij., 1917 

My dear Soldier Boy, 

If your new uniform is not warm enough you must get 



- 92 



some new underclothing, Don*t spare the money to make 
yourself comfortable. I don»t think I will be able 
to go to New York again until after the fifteenth of 
this month; if I do I will telegraph you. 

Hope you are well and take good care of yourself, 
and believe me as ever the same. 

E.P.S. " 

"Pine Lodge Methuen, Mass. Oct. 1, 1917 

My dear Soldier Boy, 

Oh how sorry I am that I was not at the Hotel to 
welcome you. I was obliged to come home, to be on 
time for payday the first of the month. 

I went up to the Castle today and closed it up. 
I think of you every day and night and wonder if you 
are warm and comfortable. I miss you very much, my 
life is only half a life without my dear boy. 

God Bless and keep you from harm is my prayer. 

With much love from your old guardian, 

E.P.S. r 

P.S. - This is all the paper I can get tonight; the 
Pine Lodge paper is in Miss Littlef ield»s desk and 
she has gone to bed. 

Yl'.kS P.M. Good Night n 



93 - 



Miss Edith Littlefield was Searles' cousin. She and her 
mother had been living in one of the caretaker's houses nearby. 
After Miss Littlefield 1 s mother died Searles brought his cousin 
up to the big house, Pine Lodge, to live and act as his personal 
secretary. They habitually opened and answered the mail 
together every morning. It is obvious, from the card accompanying 
a gift that she gave him, that they were warmly attached to one 
another. The card, which Searles saved by placing it in one of 
the books in his library, addresses him intimately as "Ned", his 
boyhood nickname. 



"Murray Hill Hotel Oct. 10, 1917 

Park Ave. & l^Oth to klat Sts. 
One Block from Grand Central Station 



My dear Boy, 

I leave tonight at 12 M. I could not get ready 
for the five o'clock train. 

I went to the Studio to see your pictures and I 
took three of them. They are fine. I had one taken 
of myself for you. Will send one to you next week if 
I get them. 

I now must get ready and pack my bags. I miss you 
my Boy. 

Goodnight 

Dad n 

Here there is a break in the letters and it seems evident that 
it was about this time that Searles substituted Arthur Walker, for 



9k - 



Miss Littlefield, to act as his private secretary. Walker 
was a clerk in the offices of Stillraan & Hubbard, the law firm 
that represented the Searles railroad interests on Wall Street, 
At Searles 1 invitation, Walker spent a week in Methuen in 
November, 1911, to rest after an illness he had in New York. 
Later, when William Shillaber, Sr. died, and left a vacancy on 
the Searles-owned New York Globe, Searles chose Walker to take 
his place. After Walker became SearlesJ private secretary he 
handled much of his business correspondence, and later claimed 
that Searles even dictated some of his letters to Angy to him. 
And possibly he did dictate a few, for the mid-summer letters 
of 1918 are not so personal as the others: 

"Pine Lodge 

My dear Ange, Methuen, Mass. June 3, 1918 

Yours of the 29th received and I was very happy to 
hear from you, and wish you could be here sitting under 
the pine trees. I think you would like the odor of the 
pines better than the smell of gasoline and oil, but we 
cannot do anything now-a-days that we want to do. 

I have been up to Windham two or three times, but 
the Castle looks lonesome without you and Sammy rolling 
on the grass. Sammy has grown to be a fine big dog. 

Yours as ever, the same old, loving 

Dad 



- 95 - 



"Pine Lodge Methuen, Mass. July 5, 1918 

My dear lonesome boy Ange, 

I was very glad to hear from you; it seems as 
though I have been away a month, although it is 
only a week. 

Yesterday I celebrated the Fourth by going up 
to Windham with Miss Littlefield and paid a visit 
to Morrison Lodge and the Castle on the hill. 

We got caught in a thunder shower so we had to 
wait in Morrison Lodge until the rain was over. 
Seavey and the men were at work in the hay field 
until the rain came on; then they had to give it up. 

Take good care of yourself and sleep well at 
the Murray Hill and forget that you are lonesome. 

Faithfully yours, 

Your loving old Dad is lonesome without you, 

Dad " 

A week or so later, at the Murray Hill Hotel, Searles awoke 
during the night with a pain in his abdomen. He roused Angy who 
called a doctor. The doctor revealed that Searles had prost ate 
gland trouble and gave him a sedative. Angy was discharged from 
the Army early in the following month of August, 1919, and since 
the doctor had been prescribing a change of scenery for Searles, 
for quite some time, they traveled to the Canadian Rockies stopping 
at Lake Louise then on to the Pacific Coast. They returned to 



96 



New York in September. 

By this time Angy was twenty-three years old and had matured 
since Searles first met him. He decided to return to his homeland 
to straighten, out family affairs over there. Accordingly, on 
November 5, 1919, Searles sent him off to Smyrna, Asia Minor. 
Before the ship sailed Angy wrote the following letter: 

"On board S.S. Canada November 5, 1919 

My dear loving Daddy, 

In an hour or so the boat is sailing and by 
tomorrow I will be far away on the sea. But no matter 
in what part of the globe I am found I will always love 
you and remember you. You have been too good to me, 
more than I ever deserved, but dear Daddy be sure that 
your boy always loved you and will love you with all 
his heart, I can not give you anything or repay you 
with anything but my love which is pure and which is 
true for you. 

God bless you and give you health and happiness 
forever. 

I wish that I had not gone away from you but I am 
sure that my homecoming to you will be speedier than 
you think. 

Take good care of yourself. Wishing you happiness 
and hoping to see you soon, 

Your Boy 

Angy " 



97 - 



"Pine Lodge Methuen, Mass. Jan. 20, 1920 

My dear Ange, 

Your letter of December 11th was received 
yesterday and I was very glad to know of your safe 
arrival at your old home, and that you were making 
some progress at getting your family affairs into 
better shape. I hope you will be able to make such 
arrangements for them that you will feel that you 
can leave them to take care of themselves without 
much anxiety on your part. 

I am looking forward anxiously, for the time 
when you will return, and the old Murray Hill 
apartment is very lonesome without you. 

Hoping this letter will find you well and happy, 
I am, as ever, 

Faithfully yours, 
Your Loving Daddy, 
E.P.S. " 

In the next month of February Searles, as usual, went to 
New York to live at the Murray Hill Hotel for a while. Towards 
the end of the month he began to suffer from the prost ate gland 
trouble and on March 2, 1920, it was necessary for him to go to a 
hospital in New York. Since Angy was still in Greece, and Searles 
was all alone in the New York hospital, he sent for Walter Glidden, 
a young caretaker at the Pine Lodge estate. After Searles went 



- 98 



under an operation by Doctor McCarthy, a New York urologist, 
Angy returned from his trip on April 3rd to find his friend 
convalescing at the Murray Hill Hotel. It was his first knowledge 
that Searles had been ill. Walter Glidden continued to care for 
Searles while Angy began his studies at a New York preparatory 
school. Searles continued his hospital treatments until April 20th, 
In May he and Glidden returned to Methuen and later, that same 
month, Angy received the following letter: 

"Pine Lodge Methuen, Mass. May 17, 1920 

My dear Ange, 

Your letter was received yesterday, and you are 
not forgotten. The reason I have not written to you 
is that I have been very sick, and am still in bed 
under the doctor's care. 

I am glad to hear you are employing your time so 
well in your studies. 

With love from Dad " 

"Pine Lodge Methuen, Mass. June 18, 1920 

My dear Ange, 

I am still in bed under the doctor's care but 
think that I am gaining slowly. As soon as I am 
able, I will let you know when I can see you. 

Mr. Walker says that the Troy Polyteohnical 
School for Electrical Engineering is the best place 



- 99 - 

for you, and you approve of it, and I advise you to 
take the preparatory course in New York this summer, 
and Mr, Walker will make all the arrangements for you. 

Hoping you are well and happy and will keep so, 
I am as ever, 

Faithfully yours, 

from Dad 

P.S. - Let me hear from you as often as you can. 



That was the last letter that Angy ever received from Searles 
and although he didn't realize it, he would never see him again, 
Arthur Walker, Searles* trusted business secretary, arranged for 
Angy to go on vacation during that summer's school recess. Was 
Walker aware that if he could make it appear to Searles that Angy 
was neglecting him in his illness, the old gentleman would be 
sufficiently hurt as to be willing to think of the youth as merely 
a fickle boy, rather than the close companion that he actually was? 
The result was, perhaps, that Searles, resigned to loneliness, ill, 
and without Angy's company, signed the will of July 2lj.th, 1920, 
leaving the bulk of his fortune to Walker. Never- the -less, it is 
certain that Searles proved, by his kind affection for this young man, 
to be something more than a stuffy old Victorian full of hypocrisy 
and prejudices. He was human after all. His hard, high stone 
walls then were not symbolic of his true emotional character. 



- 100 



As his strength.; slowly left him, Searles rarely left 
his bed, and when he did, he was carried downstairs by the 
human-chair method, only to sit in a wheelchair. Thus, he 
spent his last six weeks. Doctor Henry P. Dearborn, of 
Lawrence, who attended him during this time, recalls that his 
disposition was normal for one as ill as he was. One day he 
would be friendly; another day quiet. On the days that he was 
talkative he spoke about his trips to England and of English 
food. He was, in the doctor's own words, "easy to handle." 
During this period he often complained of weakness but felt no 
pain. He was unconscious from early morning until £:10 in the 
afternoon of August 6th, 1920, when he died. 

Services were conducted in the Baronial Hall at Appleside 
with the body in a closed casket. Mr. Truette, his favorite 
organist from Boston, played a prelude to open the service and 
a postlude to close it. Following the service the casket was 
removed to a crypt in the beautiful red sandstone chapel nearby, 
which Searles had constructed on his estate in 1917. The mourners 
followed the casket to the chapel where brief committal services 
were held. Among those present at the funeral were Senator 
Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., Charles Tenney»s son, Daniel, and Angy. 
The legend was at last a legend. 

Now, the millions have long since gone elsewhere. Like 
Searles, they too are part of a legend as far as his village of 
Methuen is concerned. His was an incredible fortune and it left 



101 



an incredible legend. Although the walls in Methuen and in 
New Hampshire are crumbling in places, for the most part, they, 
like the legend, still stand with their castles and mansions, 
gardens, and deep, quiet, pools. The weeds and brush are closing 
in but they haven't yet obliterated the Searlesian charm. 



R. Premraer - 19l]-8 




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